TORONTO (AP) — Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly thought he scored the game-tying goal late in the second period of Friday’s Game 5 against the Florida Panthers, but a video review resulted in a no-goal decision.
Fans at Scotiabank Arena watched a video replay of the puck crossing the line and were irate that Florida retained its 2-1 lead.
Some spectators threw debris on the ice after the decision was announced. Between the review and the ensuing cleanup, play was delayed for about 10 minutes.
The NHL’s Situation Room issued an explanation of the decision a short time later.
“The referee deemed the play dead prior to the puck crossing the Florida line. The call was made in accordance to Rule 78.5 (xii), which states apparent goals shall be disallowed ‘when the referee deems the play has been stopped, even if he had not physically had the opportunity to stop play by blowing his whistle.’”
Rielly, who scored Toronto’s first goal earlier in the period, drove toward the net and appeared to slide the puck under goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s right pad with 2:49 left in the period.
The defenseman started celebrating and skated toward the bench to touch gloves with his teammates.
“It happened quickly and obviously they reviewed it, so it is what it is,” Rielly said.
Initial replays shown on the arena’s video screens were inconclusive. Eventually a clip was shown that clearly showed the puck was a couple of centimeters over the line.
“I thought it was in,” Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said. “I was heading to the net and I was right there. From my vantage point I thought it was in. Obviously they looked at it and had their reasoning that they explained.
“It just didn’t go our way but I thought we stayed with it and obviously found the equalizer later.”
The Maple Leafs eventually tied the game at 15:33 of the third period when William Nylander beat Bobrovsky, and Nick Cousins scored the overtime winner to give Florida a 4-1 series victory and a berth in the Eastern Conference final.
The Maple Leafs had advanced in the playoffs for the first time in 19 years when they beat Tampa Bay in the first round.
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The Associated Press