In the last minute of the third period in Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the Vancouver Canucks scored the first goal of the game, which would hold up for the final half minute of play and prove to be the game-winning goal.
The play resulted from a stretch pass made by Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa from his own defensive zone. As the puck reached the opposing blue line, Ryan Kesler tipped the puck as he dragged his skate across the blue line. Once in the zone, Kelser passed the puck across the offensive zone to a wide open Jannik Hansen, who then fired a pass to the front of the net, where Raffi Torres redirected the puck past Boston goalie Tim Thomas for the game-winning goal.
Despite a close game which ended on a dramatic goal caused by a magnificent play, there has been some voiced disapproval regarding a non-offsides call on this play.
The accusation is that Kesler entered the offensive zone before the puck had crossed the line. Under these circumstances, offside would be the correct call and the play would have to be stopped by the linesman.
However, using a replay angle found in the CBC feed of the game, it is extremely clear that the puck completely crossed the blue line before Kesler fully entered the zone. Since Kesler had dragged his skate on the blue line, he was still considered outside of the offensive zone, which is why there was no offsides to be called.
With that settled, even if the play was difficult to call one way or the other, or even if it was clearly offside, that is not why the puck ended up going in the net.
Bruins fans should not be imagining inches of the ice that do not exist, but looking at the actual play which resulted in Boston's Game 1 loss.
If blame is necessary, take it off the linesman. Making a close call in a tie game in the last minute of the championship series of a major sport is extremely difficult. If anything, he should be commended for being able to make the right call on such a close play.
Take a look at what the Bruins failed to do during the play. First, Johnny Boychuk was unable to stop a stretch pass, resulting in Kesler achieving possession in the offensive zone.
After this, Boston's Chris Kelly made a huge mistake. Once Kesler was in the zone, Rich Peverley committed to applying pressure. Rather than set himself up in a position to block a passing lane, Kelly looked directly at Kesler and skated towards the area as well, taking two Boston players to the side of the zone.
This left a hefty amount of space for the Canucks to work with.
Once Kesler tossed the puck over to Hansen, it was basically a two-on-one for Vancouver with the entire offensive zone to work with and Zdeno Chara given the load of defending the whole play.
Chara decided to apply pressure to Hansen. With Peverley and Kelly both out of the play after their endeavors toward Kesler, and now Chara after Hansen, Torres was wide open as he skated toward the net.
Hansen was able to get the pass under a sliding Chara, and Torres sealed the deal by beating one of the few goalies in the world with the ability to actually make amazing saves like one that would have been required to keep the game scoreless.
The reason the puck ended up in the back of the net is not due to a faulty linesman's eyesight or incompetency. The linesman made a terrific call, as the Canucks made a great play and took advantage of Boston's defensive miscues.
The play that resulted in Vancouver taking the first game was completely legal. There was no foul play in the determining goal.
What happened was simply another dramatic ending to an NHL playoff game; a type of moment that reminds hockey fans of the potential excitement that can result from a battle for Lord Stanley's Cup.