The Blackhawks weren’t pleased with the officiating in Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins and felt like they were robbed after having their go-ahead goal by Drake Caggiula taken away with 1:05 left in regulation.
Goal or no goal? pic.twitter.com/dMESFxq2d0— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) February 6, 2020
No explanation was given at the time as to why the whistle was blown, but an NHL spokesperson confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago on Thursday morning that the ruling was, indeed, a hand pass and also that the correct call was made despite the Blackhawks saying the on-ice officials admitted to them after the game they made a "mistake."
Having reviewed the play, our Officiating Department is certain that the on-ice officials got the call right. [Olli] Maatta redirected the puck with his glove, giving his team an advantage in a zone other than the defensive zone — which is how a hand pass is defined in the Rule Book. While it is difficult to determine whether the puck hit his stick before it went to a teammate, that is not relevant. Possession and control by the same player who made the hand pass is required to nullify the hand pass — not just a deflection off that player’s stick.
The whistle could have been blown earlier and a better announcement made, but neither change whether the call was correct.
The key takeaway from the league's explanation is the "possession and control" part. Whether Maatta touched the puck with his stick or not, the NHL's Officiating Department believes a deflection doesn't constitute as possession.
Here is the official wording of the Hand Pass rule No. 79.1:
A player shall be permitted to stop or “bat” a puck in the air with his open hand, or push it along the ice with his hand, and the play shall not be stopped unless, in the opinion of the on-ice officials, he has directed the puck to a teammate, or has allowed his team to gain an advantage, and subsequently possession and control of the puck is obtained by a player of the offending team, either directly or deflected off any player or official.
This probably doesn't change the way the Blackhawks feel about the ruling and how the game unfolded, but it does offer some insight into where the confusion may have been.
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