As Nicklas Backstrom crashed the net and bunted the puck past Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen with 8 minutes 1 second gone in the second period, it appeared as though the Washington Capitals had pulled ahead of the Stars on Saturday night.
But rather than adding an even-strength goal to the scoreboard at American Airlines Center, the tally was waved off because as Backstrom made the motion to knock the puck into the net his stick hit the Lehtonen’s mask
“Referee Mike Leggo determined that Nicklas Backstrom made incidental contact with goalie Kari Lehtonen and prevented Lehtonen from doing his job in the crease — no goal, no penalty. This play is the referee’s call on the ice and is not reviewable.”
Backstrom was unsurprisingly frustrated. “What I saw was the puck and I touched the puck before I touched the mask,” he said. “But I don’t know, it’s typical.”
Said Lehtonen: “I knew that I got hit pretty hard. I tried to tell that to the linesman. I think he saw it too and he went to tell them. It was a weird play. Sometimes they are able to see it and sometimes not. I’m just lucky they waved it off.”
Here’s the video of the play:
Who knows what might have transpired in the game if that tally would have stood. Even-strength goals have been elusive for the Capitals so far this season and one at that particular juncture would have forced Dallas to play a more open style of game.
But Coach Adam Oates didn’t want to dwell too much on would-haves and could-haves.
“I thought once the puck goes in there you’re allowed to go after it and I didn’t think Backy interfered with him. I thought he touched the puck first and then the goalie. Obviously the goalie embellished a little,” Oates said. The officials “do their best, the guy thought he was interfered with. You’ve got to be able to survive that stuff. Tough time, you want the goal but it happens. Hopefully in the course of the season it goes the same for everybody.”
Five thoughts on the Capitals’ 2-1 loss to Dallas to follow Sunday morning.