Something deeply unsatisfying happened Saturday night, likely for the first-time ever in a century of professional Montreal hockey games.
A team was credited with a goal without the goal ever going over the red line in the net.
We all agree what a goal is, don't we? Quite simple: as one website describes it as. "In order for a goal to be valid, the puck must pass over the goal line."
Rene Bourque was heading towards the empty net, vacated when Brian Boucher vacated his goal for an extra skater, with the puck. He was tripped in a desperation move by the Flyers' defenseman Jakub Voracek and lost the puck.
The referee deemed that Bourque would have scored if he hadn't have been hauled down, so he credited the Habs with a goal even though the puck never went in the net.
So referees are now empowered, according to Rule 57.4,* to reward discretionary goals based on their own imagination of what might have happened, regardless of whether the puck ever actually enters the net.
There is a solution to eliminate this awkwardness.
Reward empty-net penalty shots in cases where a player is obstructed on the way to a sure empty-net goal.
It might seem ridiculous to see a player go in against an empty net, but no more so than the intentional walk in baseball and it would give the crowd the satisfaction of knowing that a goal was actually a goal.
*If, when the opposing goalkeeper has been removed from the ice, a player in control of the puck in the neutral or attacking zone is tripped or otherwise fouled with no opposition between him and the opposing goal, thus preventing a reasonable scoring opportunity, the Referee shall immediately stop play and award a goal to the attacking team.