The NHL on Friday defended the “good-goal” call that had Rangers coach Alain Vigneault fuming after the team’s 4-3 loss to the Hurricanes in Raleigh on Thursday night.
Vigneault had challenged Sebastian Aho’s power-play goal, which tied the score at 3 at 9:04 of the third period, arguing that Elias Lindholm interfered with goalie Antti Raanta, loosening his mask while the netminder’s skates were in the crease. Vigneault said he received different explanations why the plea was denied. Raanta said he couldn’t see Aho’s shot with his mask displaced.
“This was a fairly straightforward example of incidental contact outside the blue paint,” an NHL spokesman said.
Apparently, the ruling was based on Lindholm, outside the crease, moving side to side, screening Raanta and colliding with his mask as Raanta leaned forward to establish position.
The league’s Situation Room had provided this statement after the challenge: “After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred before the puck crossed the goal line.”
Injuries hurt penalty kill
The Rangers, who ranked fifth in the league on the penalty-kill on the road at 85.7 percent, were stung twice by third-period power-play goals against the Hurricanes.
In the last ten games, road and away, prior to Thursday the shorthanded units had allowed six goals on 28 opportunities, or 78.5 percent. What’s missing? Start with injured Dan Girardi, Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast and Rick Nash.
Girardi, who has missed six straight games with an ankle injury, logs the second-most minutes per game shorthanded (2:15). Grabner, whose speed disrupts mid-ice plays, leads all Blueshirt forwards in ice-time shorthanded (1:41 per game) and Fast is right behind (1:34). Both have missed five games. Grabner has a hip/oblique problem and Fast a separated shoulder. Nash (1:13 per game) was playing through an upper-body injury before being rested on Thursday, Vigneault said.
Lundqvist likely to play
Brandon Halverson, who was summoned from Greenville of the ECHL on Thursday to back up Raanta with Henrik Lundqvist sitting due to a lower-body issue that developed in the defeat of the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, was sent back down. That seems to signal that Lundqvist will be ready to play in one of the back-to-backs, in Detroit on Sunday and at home against Tampa on Monday. The Detroit game will be the franchise’s final visit to Joe Louis Arena, which opened in 1979 and is being replaced.