The Panthers already appeared to have a jump on Washington midway through the third period last night when they received what would be the eventual game-winner from Stephen Weiss. But the goal came with some controversy.
Weiss was crashing into the crease when the puck went over the goal line and the center made slight contact with goaltender Michal Neuvirth in the seconds leading up to the tally. Immediately after the puck crossed the line, referee Stephane Auger waved his arms to signal no goal.
The referees conferred on the ice, then there was an official NHL review of the tally. There was some confusion between the Capitals and referees as to why the goal was under review, according to defenseman Karl Alzner.
“He called if off because he thought [Weiss] punched it in with his hand,” Alzner said of the explanation the Capitals received. “We thought he called it off because it was goalie interference but he seemed to think there was no goalie interference. Because we were all wondering why he was going upstairs, because you can’t go upstairs to overturn that kind of [goaltender interference] call. We were a little confused and obviously getting a little worried when he was looking at it for so long.”
The ruling from Toronto was that Weiss didn’t knock the puck into the net with his hand, which was apparent on the many replays showed of the possible tally. It appeared as though Neuvirth attempted to poke check the puck away from the net, but instead it deflected off a stick, then up in the air, where it glanced off Weiss’s shoulder and into the net.
Weiss was credited with a goal that gave Florida a 3-1 lead 9 minutes and 52 seconds into the third. It’s impossible to know how the contest might have played out otherwise, but it gave the Panthers a greater lead and would be the final dagger in Washington’s comeback hopes.
“The guy said he seen the guy [Weiss] knock it in; that’s why he waved it off,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “They back in — where they do it in Toronto there — they said no.”