May 22, 2024

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Bruins baffled by NHL decision not to turn Panthers goal over for interference: ‘I couldn’t play my position’

Bruins baffled by NHL decision not to turn Panthers goal over for interference: ‘I couldn’t play my position’

BOSTON — The way Charlie Coyle remembers the sequence, he was trying to play a rebound from Anton Lundell that bounced off Jeremy Swayman’s left pad. The next thing he knew, he felt a stick in his back.

Stick villain Sam Bennett of course.

“I’m trying to make a play,” Coyle said after the Boston Bruins’ 3-2 Game 4 loss to Bennett and the Florida Panthers. “It goes right through me. I feel a push from behind. I go to Sway. The puck drips right past them to their leg. Empty net. I thought maybe I could turn around and manipulate it or clear it. That’s what happened.”

“It’s a tough call. Sometimes you have to play through things. I can’t make excuses.”

Coyle is 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds. It’s a burden that fell on Swayman. Naturally, it was not easy for the goalkeeper to push Coyle’s block away and reach to his right to stop the ball.

“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Swayman said. “I just know I can’t play in my position. The review showed that.”

Video coordinators Matt Myers and Dan Darrow are responsible for initiating Bruins reviews. On their advice, coach Jim Montgomery told referees Frederic Lecuyer and Francis Charron that he would challenge the equalizer due to goalkeeper interference. From the Bruins’ standpoint, both Coyle and Swayman were denied opportunities to play the puck due to Bennett’s cross-checking.

“We thought Coyle was on top of our goalie,” Montgomery said. “And if Coyle had been able to hold up, he could have cleared the puck. That prevents our goaltender from being able to react to the puck play.”

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According to Rule 69.1, if a defending player is pushed, pushed or obstructed by an attacking player such that it causes the defending player to make contact with his own goalkeeper, that contact is considered to be contact initiated by the attacking player. If necessary, a penalty kick is assessed to the attacking player. If a goal is scored, it will be disallowed.

L’Ecuyer and Charron put on their headphones and looked at the target on their screen. The challenge has been cancelled. Bennett’s equalizer was good. According to Montgomery, Toronto’s operating room made the decision, not the on-ice referees.

“Toronto ruled it was a good goal,” Montgomery said. “The play did not interfere with the goal. That’s the explanation I got.”

According to the NHL, a video review upheld the original on-ice call for a good goal. Coyle pushed on Bennett, according to the league, and subsequent contact with Swayman did not prevent the goaltender from playing his position in the crease before the Florida center’s goal.

As Cowell recalls, he got a good chunk of Swayman on the way down. Bennett hit him so hard.

“I’d be down all the way if I didn’t hit Swayman,” Coyle said of Bennett’s checking power. “There is no way he can get there. I hit him. If I don’t hit him I will fall.”

With Coyle on top of his right pad or blocking his progress, Swayman thought there was no way he could stretch to stop Bennett’s shot. When Montgomery issued the challenge, Swayman was sure the goal would come back.

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“I know our guys won’t challenge the target unless they know it’s going to be (cancelled),” Swayman said. “I was really confident about that.”

The Bruins led 2-0 after the first period. Swayman bowed in Lundell’s second period for a single.

But the Bruins were still in control of the game when Hampus Lindholm went off for interference. Swayman was keeping his curls visible. The Bruins had more life offensively than they did in the first half despite taking an early two-goal lead.

But the failed challenge was a kick to the head that the Bruins couldn’t overcome. Because of the challenge, the Bruins had to kill another penalty. They couldn’t build any offensive momentum. Bennett’s goal gave the Panthers oxygen and stole it from the Bruins.

It all contributed to Aleksander Barkov scoring the winning goal after he danced through David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk.

Now the tables have turned on Swayman and the Bruins. Once they take a 3-1 lead in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Aces must steal three wins for the Bruins to come back in the second round.

“It’s playoff hockey, and we better believe it because it’s true,” Swayman said of the 3-1 deficit. “And the reality is we’re going to Florida. We’re going to play the same game. We’re going to get it done. I have no doubt about this group. We have a lot of confidence and a lot of motivation to bring it back to Boston. Because our fans deserve the best and we’re excited to do it.”

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(Photo: Steve Babineaux/NHLI via Getty Images)