Up 4-2 in the third period in Game 4, the Washington Capitals thought they had given themselves some extra breathing room with a goal from Nate Schmidt, but it was immediately waived off by the referee for goalie interference by Nicklas Backstrom.
When watching the replay, you can’t argue that Backstrom did not make contact with Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen, but it’s hard to blame him when he is getting pushed into Andersen by defenseman Jake Gardiner and literally held by Andersen.
You can see the video of the play above.
It’s pretty blatant. If Andersen had been a skater, he would have been called for holding. So when the goal was ultimately called back, it caught Barry Trotz off guard.
“I was actually surprised that we got our goal called back to be honest with you,” Trotz said to the media on Thursday. “I look at it and I think, that's a goal. I think sometimes you look at it and you see interference, but you got to look at what the goalie's trying to do too.
“I thought Andersen, honestly when I looked at it, he couldn't find the puck and I think he, from my perspective, it looked like he was looking to try to grab a call because he's wrapping his arm around Backstrom. Backstrom's actually trying to get out and they're trying to squeeze him in there and he's trying to pull him into him.”
The NHL released an explanation per its situation room blog stating, “After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee determined that Washington's Nicklas Backstrom interfered with Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen.”
If you find that explanation unsatisfying, well, it’s hard to blame you because it explains nothing. “It’s interference because it is.”
Perhaps the NHL should explain what they believe Backstrom should have done differently on that play because there is not much he can do if he is being simultaneously pushed and grabbed. There’s even a point where he throws his hands in the air basically showing the ref that he is not being allowed to move away from Andersen.
It seems like a bad precedent when a goalie can maintain contact with a player in order to get an interference call.
Said Trotz, “There's gamesmanship with the goalies too.”
MORE CAPITALS: Prediction recap: Ovechkin gets more ice time but not much