And then they did: Artem Anisimov shot the puck as Marian Gaborik collided with Brodeur with 3.5 seconds remaining in the third period—but it was instantly waved off.
Gaborik was called for goalie interference when he crashed into Brodeur in the crease after being shoved from behind by Devils' defenseman Anton Volchenkov.
Just as Rangers head coach John Tortorella was celebrating the goal, he saw the referee's signal and became irate with the on-ice decision.
Rangers fans were understandably upset with the decision, and one look on my Twitter feed showed comments like "horribly reffed," "disgusting call," "the NHL blew it" and so forth.
But why did the referees wave off Anisimov's goal?
One look at the NHL's official ruling on goaltender interference quickly tells the story:
Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease.
Is the NHL's Rule 69 flawed?
Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgment of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.
The rule continues:
If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
Cut and dry, if a penalty is not called, the goal is reviewable. If they deem it was interference in review, a penalty would still not be called and a faceoff would ensue.
But since the referees determined there was goaltender interference, the goal was not reviewable because of the penalty call. Play effectively stops as soon as the penalty was called, and Anisimov's goal therefore did not count.
After watching the replay of the goal several times, it is obvious that Gaborik made a concerted effort to avoid Brodeur (he nearly delivers a snow shower to Brodeur's face), but was pushed against his will by Volchenkov.
Had he not been pushed, I don't believe Gaborik would have collided with Brodeur.
However, it appears that condition one was met in Rule 69, so the goal was waved off without hesitation by the referees.
Was it a good call? I honestly don't agree with the on-ice decision, and in fact, I think Rule 69 is flawed.
Goals scored on such circumstances should count, then if necessary, a video review by the referees to determine the legality of the goal should begin.
The Rangers were not in agreement with the call either.
Tortorella refused to comment on the incident (likely because he learned his lesson from the 2012 Winter Classic) and simply stated, "The difference was Brodeur."
Gaborik stated after the game to the media, "I don't understand."
Henrik Lundqvist, in goal for the Rangers last night, said that, "If a goalie sells it that good, yeah, they're going to call it."
Did Brodeur, or "fatso" as Sean Avery would call him, "sell it?"
Many Rangers fans believe so.