What is the NHL goalie interference rule? Explaining the regulations amid Stars' controversial OT win

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche
What does the NHL rulebook say about Dallas Stars' goalie interference

On Friday night, the Dallas Stars' dramatic 2-1 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 of the NHL's Western Conference semifinals drew some controversy due to goalie interference.

Stars forward Mason Marchment appeared to net the series-clinching goal in the first overtime, but the goal was immediately waved off by the officials. After a video review, the no-goal ruling was upheld, citing goalie interference by Matt Duchene on Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev.

According to the league, Duchene's contact impaired Georgiev's ability to defend his goal, thus disallowing the goal based on Rule 69.1.

"Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease"


What does the NHL Goalie Interference Rule say?

The NHL's goalie interference rule, detailed in Rule 69 of the NHL rulebook, is designed to ensure that goalkeepers can perform their duties without being unfairly hindered by opposing players. The rule's key points include:

  1. Positioning and Contact: The rule states that a goal should be disallowed if an attacking player, by positioning or contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal. This applies regardless of whether the contact occurs inside or outside the crease.
  2. Intentional Contact: Any intentional or deliberate contact with the goalie, inside or outside the crease, that impairs the goalie’s ability to play his position will result in the goal being disallowed.
  3. Incidental Contact: Incidental contact with a goalie outside the crease is permitted, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. Inside the crease, any contact that hinders the goalie’s ability to defend will disallow a goal.
  4. Defensive Actions: If a defending player pushes an attacking player into the goalie, the contact is not considered initiated by the attacker. However, the attacking player must make an effort to avoid contact if possible.
  5. Rebounds and Loose Pucks: In situations where both the goalie and attacking players are attempting to play a loose puck, incidental contact is allowed, and any resulting goals may stand.

Controversy surrounding the Dallas Stars' goalie interference

The controversy in the Stars-Avalanche game centered on whether Duchene’s contact with Georgiev was incidental or a result of being checked by Colorado defenseman Cale Makar. The NHL’s decision supported the referee’s call that Duchene’s contact impaired Georgiev’s ability to play his position, resulting in the disallowed goal.

Despite the initial setback, the Stars continued to battle and eventually scored the decisive goal in the second overtime and it was Duchene who scored the series-winner.

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