Why Antoine Roussel's Goal Counted for the Dallas Stars in Game 2 Against the Minnesota Wild

Even though I still think it shouldn't have.

Saturday night in Dallas, the Dallas Stars took on the Minnesota Wild in Game 2 of their Central Division semifinal series. The first goal of the game didn't come until a little ways into the second period, and it was a doozy.

There's a lot to unpack here, so let's get started.

Was There a Kicking Motion?

We know the ultimate result of this review, so I'm not going to spend too much time on this issue. I think there was a kicking motion when Roussel turned his skate the way he did. The NHL and the officials obviously don't agree. It's understandable how that issue can be overlooked because this wasn't your garden-variety "distinct kicking motion" argument. Usually, those instances happen when pucks are in or near the crease and players attempt to kick the puck toward the goal.

Here, Roussel turns his skate (read: "kicks the puck") to deflect the puck the over the net. Again, I think the goal shouldn't have counted because I think Roussel's skate motion here is enough to constitute a kicking motion as defined by the rules. But the goal was still called a good goal anyway, so let's look at the other issues that come into play here.

Did the Puck Cross the Goal Line Between the Posts and Crossbar?

Yes, the puck did cross the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar. The "between the posts" part is obvious. The "under the crossbar" bit becomes a little weird. When the puck bounces off Devan Dubnyk's back, he backs into the goal and the puck actually hits the crossbar. As Dubnyk backs into the goal further, he lifts the net off its moorings slightly, and the puck lands on the white ice behind the goal line.

Was the integrity of the goal frame compromised?

Here's where most of the confusion understandably comes in. From the NHL Official Rules (emphasis mine):

78.4 Scoring a Goal - A goal shall be scored when the puck shall have been put between the goal posts by the stick of a player of the attacking side, from in front and below the crossbar, and entirely across a red line the width of the diameter of the goal posts drawn on the ice from one goal post to the other with the goal frame in its proper position. 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. The flexible pegs could be bent, but as long as at least a portion of the flexible peg(s) are still in the hole in the ice and the goal post, the goal frame shall be deemed to be in its proper position. The goal frame could be raised somewhat on one post (or both), but as long as the flexible pegs are still in contact with the holes in the ice and the goal posts, the goal frame shall not be deemed to be displaced.

Yes, Dubnyk knocks the net off the moorings, but the goal frame still has both pegs in the holes in the ice when the puck fully crosses the goal line. Only after the puck has already crossed the goal line is the net completely off the mooring. Even though Dubnyk raises the goal frame slightly, under the current NHL rules, the goal still counts.

There's one other aspect to this play that I think is important to consider. There was a game between the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets two years ago that featured what's called an "Awarded Goal." In that game, Brendan Smith caused Cam Atkinson to knock the net off the moorings before the puck crossed the goal line. The goal was awarded to the Blue Jackets under Rule 63.6; the referees decided that the puck was going in anyway, so because the defending player caused the net to be dislodged, it doesn't matter. The goal counts.

Rule 63.6 doesn't come into play on this Dallas goal, but I think it easily could have. Because Dubnyk — a player on the defending team — causes the net to be dislodged, it's up to the discretion of the referee to decide whether the puck would have gone in legally anyway despite the net being pulled off the moorings. If the league wanted to, I think they could also have invoked the Awarded Goals rule to award the goal to Dallas because Dubnyk knocked the net off when the puck would have gone in anyway.

Even though it still shouldn't have counted because the puck was kicked in.