The Sharks had a dispiriting evening Monday, to say the least. They lost to the rival Kings, 4-1, and now find their playoff series knotted at three games apiece after San Jose had won the first three games. Los Angeles became just the ninth team in NHL history to force a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0.
What made the night even more frustrating for the Sharks was that the Kings’ go-ahead goal came under controversial circumstances. Sharks goalie Alex Stalock made an initial stop of a shot, but the Kings’ Justin Williams poked at his pads, and as Stalock slid backward into the goalmouth, the puck slid toward the back of the net. The controversial part of this play is that the referee had his whistle up to his mouth before the puck crossed the line, but he never blew his whistle to stop play, instead signaling for a goal.
To many observers (especially Sharks fans, of course), this goal should have been disallowed under the “intent to blow” rule. Yes, there is an NHL rule called “intent to blow,” and here is how the league describes it:
As there is a human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening.
So the fact that the referee raised his whistle to his lips certainly seemed like a clear indication that he had an intent to, you know, blow. But he didn’t, and there is no provision to have a play like that overturned from the NHL’s control room in Toronto.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that “intent to blow” is already a fairly unpopular rule, and Sharks fans have extra reason to be particularly sensitive about it, given that their squad appeared to have been robbed of an overtime win earlier this season when the rule was invoked, even though, in that case, the referee had not so much as raised his whistle.
Here is video of that play, which occurred in November:
And here is video of the controversial goal Monday night. You be the (goal) judge!