Dallas Stars

Was Roussel’s goal legal? Debateable. Weird? Certainly.

DALLAS — They don’t get much weirder than this.

In the collection of inexplicable Stanley Cup Playoff goals, you’d be hard pressed to find one more bizarre than Antoine Roussel’s goal in the Dallas Stars 2-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

The Stars winger skated behind the Minnesota net and admittedly tried to kick the puck to his stick. Instead, the puck popped over the net and hit Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk on the left shoulder and slowly rolled toward the net. Around the same time the puck crossed the line the net rose off it’s moorings and the referee immediately signaled no goal.

Then there was a lengthy review, a little more than six minutes, before league officials in Toronto reversed the call and gave Dallas a 1-0 lead.

“I’ve seen some crazy ones,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. “I’ve seen some that are similar, but I don’t think I’ve seen one that’s gone to review where you don’t know if it went in. You don’t know if the nets off. Don’t know whether it was high-sticked, don’t know whether it was kicked. So there was a lot of options there to go over.”

In the end, the decision went Dallas’ way. The league ruled it was a good goal since according to Rule 78.4 “The goal frame shall be considered in its proper position when at least a portion of the flexible peg(s) are still inside both the goal post and the hole in the ice.”

Of course, that wasn’t the end of the issue and baffling goal was a polarizing subject during post-game media availability.

The Wild players, understandably after a 2-1 loss, weren’t happy.

“I’m not even going to talk about it. It’s embarrassing. It’s not even worth the fine to tell you guys what I think about it. It’s amazing. It’s playoffs,” Dubnyk said. “Watch the replay. The puck is kicked and somehow they have enough to overturn the refs call thinking the puck is in the net there. It’s not even worth talking about. It’s mind-blowing that that’s the outcome of that play in the playoffs. Mind-blowing.”

“I don’t know,” Wild defenseman Matt Dumba said. “I don’t know if anyone can really riddle me how that’s a goal in the National Hockey League, but it was.”

Right or wrong, let’s look at the elements of the goal.

Over the line?

The puck crossed the line, but when did it completely move over the red line? Did it cross the line before Dubnyk pushed the net off it’s moorings? Looking at the video, it appears that the two actions happen at the same time.

And we also have to consider why the net came off the pegs. Dubnyk lifts the net with his shoulders and removes it from the pegs, does that count as a defending player intentionally dislodging the net and should then be awarded as a goal?

High stick?

Roussel takes a swing at the puck when it’s sitting on Dubnyk’s shoulder and misses. Had he connected with the puck there’d be even more drama since there would be the debate about whether or not the puck was played above the crossbar (it wasn’t).

Luckily, this is a somewhat easy goal vs. no goal argument to toss out.

Kicking motion?

This is where it gets very interesting.

Did Roussel kick the puck? Yes, he admitted after the game he was trying to kick the puck to his stick. In fact, FC Dallas, the local MLS team thought it was such an impressive kick that they asked the Dallas Stars on Twitter if Roussel would be available for a summer loan.

But, was it a kick if you go by the NHL rulebook?

A distinct kicking motion is one which the player propels the puck with his skate into the net. If the Video Goal Judge / League Office Video Room determines that it was put into the net by an attacking player using a distinct kicking motion, it must be ruled NO GOAL. This would also be true even if the puck, after being kicked, deflects off any other player of either team and then into the net. This is still NO GOAL. However, a puck that enter the goal after deflecting off an attacking player’s skate or that deflects off his skate while he is in the process of stopping, shall be ruled a good goal.

By this definition, Roussel kicked the puck and it hit off another player before going in. Which, would signify no goal. He also was not in the process of stopping, which is a caveat to allow a goal.

The problem here is that the rule doesn’t fit well with the Roussel’s goal from Saturday. If a player kicks the puck from behind the net, is he kicking it toward goal? And do we take intent into play? Because if you rule based off intent, Roussel wasn’t even trying to put the puck in front of the net.

“I was trying to kick it back on my stick and just perfect (bounce),” Roussel said.

So is it a kick or a simple re-direct? It’s hard to determine and it’s not exactly black and white.

The other interesting development was how the league over ruled the initial no-goal call. Watching it live and seeing the replay dozens of times, I still don’t have a perfect read on the play. So, how was it a conclusive goal? That’s what a steamed Dubnyk argued after the loss.

In the end, the only clear thing was this: it was weird, it counted, and Dallas won 2-1. While it hurt the Wild, it wasn’t the reason they lost — it was still a one-goal game at the time and the Wild failed capitalize on a handful of chances, while the Stars made their own luck.

“They went over the kick, the high stick, the whistle,” Wild coach John Torchetti said. “It’s what they call in Toronto. If it’s a goal, it’s a goal. You’ve got to move on. Can’t worry about it.”

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