Gionta shot the puck between two Boston Bruins defenders in the first period of Tuesday's Game 6, a routine shot that goalie Tim Thomas should have handled easily. Maybe referee Kevin Pollock thought so, too. He blew the play dead even as the puck lay in front of Thomas’ leg pad before Gionta poked it into the net.
Since the play was blown dead, it was not reviewable. Here’s the rule out of the NHL rulebook:
31.2 Disputes - The Referees shall have general supervision of the game and shall have full control of all game officials and players during the game, including stoppages; and in case of any dispute, their decision shall be final.
As there is a human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening.
“We’ve all been victimized by that sort of play,” said recently retired referee Kerry Fraser, now an analyst on TSN. “When you blow the whistle prematurely, you want to suck the wind right back out of it. It doesn’t work.”
-- A.J. Perez