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Leafs Clinch a Playoff Spot, Lose Andersen

Leafs Clinch a Playoff Spot, Lose Andersen

After weeks of waiting, teetering on the edge of disaster, the Toronto Maple Leafs have finally clinched a playoff spot – but it came at a cost.

Goaltender Frederik Andersen had to be removed from the game in the second period after Pittsburgh Penguins forward Tom Sestito collided with his mask, snapping his head to the side. He did not return, as Curtis McElhinney stepped in to secure the 5-3 victory.

Here’s the play:

Sestito was charged with a two-minute minor for goaltender interference.

Argument and discussion immediately arose on Twitter, some calling it clear interference, and others disagreeing that it should not have been a penalty at all. The main point was that Andersen had set up outside of the crease, but as goalies know, being outside of the crease does not automatically permit contact.

Rule 78 (c) of the NHL rule book clearly states:

A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

The official clearly thought that reasonable effort to avoid contact with Andersen was not made, therefore the penalty was called.

After the game, Don Cherry ripped into Sestito – who is mostly known for his rough-and-tough game (including multiple suspensions).

Losing Andersen would certainly be a major blow to Toronto’s playoff hopes. There was no formal update after the game, but Leafs head coach Mike Babcock did say that he expected him to start in the team’s next game.

What are your thoughts? There has been a lot of talk about goaltender safety in the NHL this season. Are players purposely headhunting goalies? Does the league need to change the rules in order to punish players more, or at least make the rules clearer?

Watch the full clip of the incident from below:

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario with the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio and work with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.