WINNIPEG, Manitoba — There was confusion about a Winnipeg goal in the first period that put the Jets up 3-0 after two replay reviews, but the NHL left little doubt that the correct call was made.
The goal helped the Jets to a 4-2 victory over the Golden Knights on Saturday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.
Ben Chiarot’s centering pass bounced in the net off the skate of Joel Armia at 7:35 and was immediately waved off by the referee for goaltender interference because Armia had contacted Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The league first looked to determine whether Armia had intentionally kicked the puck in, and ruled he had not. That ruling opened the door for Winnipeg to challenge the interference call.
Jets fans erupted in celebration when the reversal was announced and Armia was credited with a goal.
“After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the referee, the situation room determined that the contact between Winnipeg’s Joel Armia and Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury occurred after the puck was deflected into the net and, therefore, no goaltender interference infractions occurred,” the NHL said.
The puck appeared to have been past Fleury when contact was made, supporting the final verdict.
“The puck is on its way to the net when the contact happens,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “That’s what I saw. He didn’t go in freely. Not that he was pushed in, but there was contact on him to keep him in the line that he was going. But the contact that happened would have been incidental. The puck was going in one way or the other, because it’s already on the way to the net. So that’s why I made the call (to challenge).”
Asked about the call after the game, Fleury said: “I don’t know. What did you think?”
Knights coach Gerard Gallant appeared agitated when nobody asked about the call in the postgame news conference.
“Nobody’s going to ask me about that goal?” he said as he walked off the dais.
Vegas scored the next goal, but never cut the deficit to less than two.