NHL playoffs 2019: Should Maple Leafs have been called for interference on go-ahead goal?

The Maple Leafs now lead their Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup with the Bruins 3-2, but should this game have gone to overtime?

Bruins fans may certainly think so as Toronto’s go-ahead goal was surrounded by some controversy.

On the play in question, the game was knotted up at 0-0 with less than 10 minutes to go in the third period.

Neither team could get a shot past the other side’s goalie and this game seemed destined for overtime.

But when Auston Matthews put a shot in the net late in the third period, he found pay dirt and a 1-0 lead.

Should the Maple Leafs have been called for interference on this play though?

On the play in question Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman can be seen falling back into Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

Boston’s goalie Tuukka Rask clearly can’t see Jake Muzzin pass it off to Matthews across the ice and the former No. 1 pick fired at a practically empty net.

Take a look for yourself:

Hyman is clearly seen making contact with Rask, but is that enough to rule interference?

The letter of the law states goaltender interference occurs when “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.”

The play was reviewed and not deemed interference so the controversy may stop there, but that won’t keep this from being a conversation in the coming days as the Bruins are now on the brink of elimination.

Hyman wasn’t sure if he interfered and he was very nervous about the outcome of the review.

“I didn’t watch it,” he told Sportsnet. “I didn’t want to watch it. I’m just glad it counted.”

The Leafs eventually took a 2-0 lead, but Boston cut the deficit to one with a goal in the final minute. Had Matthews’ goal been disallowed, this game likely heads to overtime.

Now Boston has to go to Toronto and win to force the series to seven games and a finale in Boston. This play could have huge ramifications on the series.

Update: the NHL released a statement on the play confirming the call.

“After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Referees, the Situation Room confirmed the Referee’s call on the ice,” the statement read.

“The decision was made in accordance with Rule 78.7 that states in part, “If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the original call on the ice will be confirmed.”