ST. PAUL -- You know what they say about karma. Well, after consistently feeling jilted by goaltender interference at various points throughout this season, the Minnesota Wild finally benefited from the wishy-washy call in a 3-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night, May 26, at Xcel Energy Center.
It happened late in a must-win Game 6. A few minutes after Ryan Hartman finished a two-on-one to give the Wild a 1-0 lead, Chandler Stephenson appeared to tie the score at 1-1 for the Golden Knights with a shot from the point.
Upon further review, the officials waved off the Golden Knights goal, ruling that Alex Tuch — camped in the crease when the shot was made — impaired goaltender Cam Talbot’s ability to play his position. Almost immediately, Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer challenged the call on the ice, explaining after the game that he felt it was worth the risk at the time.
In the end, the Golden Knights lost the coach’s challenge, giving the Wild a power play during which Kevin Fiala scored to stretch the lead to 2-0 and essentially put the game out of reach. Nick Bjugstad added a goal to finalize the score at 3-0 as the Wild forced a winner-take-all Game 7 Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Who’s to say what happens if the Golden Knights tie the game in that spot? Luckily for the Wild, they don’t have to worry about that. Asked about the goaltender interference call after the game, Wild coach Dean Evason quipped, “I guess what goes around comes around, right?”
In Game 4 at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild had a goal from Joel Eriksson Ek wiped off the board when Marcus Foligno was called for goaltender interference. That goal would have tied the score 1-1 about 30 seconds after the Knights had taken the lead. Instead, momentum killed, the Wild lost 4-0 and fell behind in the series, 3-1.
The exact opposite interpretation of the rule played out when the Wild and Golden Knights met down the stretch in the regular season. On that particular night, Shea Theodore scored for the Golden Knights with Mattias Janmark all over Talbot in the crease. The officials upheld that goal, much to the chagrin of the Wild bench.
“That has been called all season and it never gets called on me,” Talbot lamented at the time. “Maybe I need to start diving. It’s unbelievable that this keeps happening. The inconsistency is ridiculous.”
Needless to say, Talbot was nervous while standing in his crease during Game 6. Though it seemed like a pretty clear case of goaltender interference, he wasn’t sure what to think.
“The way they’ve been calling them all playoffs long, it would be hard to overturn that,” Talbot said. “I mean, (the official) was yelling at (Tuch) while he was in the crease the entire time. If that goal stood, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now. I’d just be getting fined.”
Similarly, it’s hard to imagine Foligno not blowing a gasket if the officials had ruled it a goal. Not only has Foligno been burned by goaltender interference in the playoffs, he was called for it in the regular season during a game against the Arizona Coyotes. So, some might call him an expert when it comes goaltender interference.
“I went right to the ref and said, ‘It’s not a goal, because I’ve done it before,’ ” Foligno said. “I would’ve been pretty ticked off. I could even hear (the official) yelling from the corner, ‘Get out of the blue.’ ”
Still, the Wild were holding their collective breath until the officials confirmed the goaltender interference.
“You just never know,” Evason said. “It looked very similar to the others. That’s what we want, right? Looks similar to the (Foligno) call and we want consistency. They gave it to us.”