Jaccob Slavin threw a puck from the wall toward the front of the net and the puck deflected off of Lucas Wallmark and in. Those type of deflections can be understandably hard to stop, but the play looked bizarre -- and not just the result of a strange deflection catching a goalie off-guard.
Holtby spun around in his crease, the puck suddenly appeared at his feet and he fell over in a desperate attempt to keep it out. It was a discombobulating sequence from a goalie who has proven to be one of the smoothest in the NHL for the last several years.
So what the heck happened?
Replay shows that Carolina forward Saku Maenalanen nudged Holtby in the shoulder right before the goal. Todd Reirden challenged the play for goalie interference, but it was ruled that no goalie interference took place.
When you watch the replay, two things stand out. First, there is no question that Maenalanen made contact with Holtby. Second, he did not hit him hard enough to force Holtby to spin around. So why would Holtby spin with the puck still in the defensive zone?
A cynic will say Holtby allowed himself to get spun around in order to sell the goalie interference. Holtby did admit that he spun around on purpose, but not because he was looking for goalie interference. Rather, he actually was trying to play through it.
“We've tried to look at plays to see how to keep battling through things if there's an interference or not, whether it's your guy or their guy,” Holtby said. “One of those things is if a guy kind of clips you on your right side, takes your stick, I tried to hopefully spin off it is the only way to have a chance to still stop the puck.”
When Maenalanen contacts Holtby, he also makes contact with his goalie stick. Holtby then instinctively spins around in order to free his stick and himself from Maenalanen. It just happened to be poor timing that cost the Caps the goal.
“If I would've stayed there, he would've dragged me across the crease,” Holtby said.
The irony of the play is that by trying to play through the interference, it clearly cost him the call.
Had Holtby stayed put, it could have been argued that the contact did not allow Holtby to get set in order to make a save on the deflection, thus making it goalie interference. Since Holtby was clearly spinning around on his own and was not simply pushed around by the contact, it was ruled not to be the result of the interference.
“It's one of those plays where there's been some inconsistency in how things have been called,” Holtby said.
“It was one of those where you're a little too proactive and they don't see that,” he added. “But it's a tough job making those calls, too. Obviously personally playing the position you know that that's interference. But there's a point in hockey where you've just got to battle, too. I'm not going to complain about a call or no-call. I know that doing that is giving me the best chance to stop that puck. We move on.”
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