Joel Quenneville could barely stomach watching the officials take away yet another Blackhawks goal. He sure as heck couldn’t stomach rehashing it.
“It’s gotten to a different level — I don’t know the rules anymore, or something’s changed,” a fuming Quenneville said after the Hawks’ 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. “I played a lot of hockey. I don’t know. I think everybody has an interpretation, what’s a good goal and what’s a bad goal. But I can’t believe it.”
With that, Quenneville threw his arms up and stormed out of the press conference after just one question, a unique moment of disgust for a coach who usually restricts his fiery temper to the bench. It was perhaps a wise decision, too, because had he stayed at the lectern any longer, he might have earned himself a fine by tearing into referees Steve Kozari and Tom Kowal.
For the second time in three games, the Hawks had a goal overturned after a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference. This time, it proved costly, as the game was 1-0 until Joe Thornton’s empty-netter with 1:42 to go. It was the Hawks’ first home loss since Dec. 27.
Just like in Arizona last Thursday, the disallowed goal was a questionable call at best. Dennis Rasmussen certainly was in the crease with his stick between Sharks goalie Martin Jones’ pads when Brandon Mashinter knocked the puck in off his shin pad. The question was whether he was pushed into Jones, or went in on his own volition.
“I can’t blame Moose,” Mashinter said of Rasmussen. “The puck was there. It’s just unfortunate, that’s it.”
Marian Hossa, for one, was mystified by the call. Again.
“The league wants to get more goals, but it seems like the rule is doing a good job of taking good goals away,” Hossa said. “Last year, definitely, that would be a goal. No questions asked.”
Challenges were added to the NHL this season, with coaches allowed to challenge for goaltender interference or offside plays that lead directly to goals. This was the third Hawks goal overturned in less than a month, including an Andrew Shaw tally in Toronto on Jan. 15 that was disallowed because Hossa was ruled offside in an excruciatingly close call.
Hossa, who has scored 496 goals in his career, was outspoken about the challenges disrupting games after the Arizona game, and he didn’t hold back on Tuesday, either.
“It seems like every call these days takes so long, and the game’s slowing down,” Hossa said. “Every light touch with the goalie seems like it’s a goal disallowed.”
The biggest problem with the challenges is that the reviews aren’t centralized in New York or Toronto. Instead, the referees on-site review the plays on iPads, leaving the rule open to each individual crew’s interpretation.
“Every ref has a different opinion of exactly what it is,” said Corey Crawford, who made 25 saves, only allowing Patrick Marleau’s deflected power-play shot in the second period get past him. “I’m sure they all try and stick to the same structure and key points to allow and disallow a goal. But some guys kind of stretch it a little bit further than others.”
With Artemi Panarin out of the lineup with an illness, the Hawks were mostly punchless. Both Teuvo Teravainen and Richard Panik got turns in Panarin’s stop on the second line, but other than a few aggressive drives to the net by Hossa, the Hawks generated few quality scoring chances.
“He’s such a high-skilled offensive player,” Hossa said. “He’s one of the top young players to watch, and to have in our lineup. But it’s not always about one guy.”
It is, however, sometimes about one goal. Or one no-goal, for that matter.