Edmonton Oilers

There is no way the Los Angeles Kings’ overtime goal should have counted against the Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers lost a heartbreaker last night against the Los Angeles Kings. The game was fueled by questionable refereeing decisions that seemed to consistently go against the team in copper and blue. Perhaps most upsetting was the game-winning goal. Take a look at the sequence again here:

Upon closer review, the puck appears to be batted out of the air by a high stick by Gabriel Vilardi after a battle with Mattias Ekholm in the corner. The players on the ice called it, the fans at home called it, but the NHL did not. The puck was then played in front to Trevor Moore who scored the goal.

What do the rules say about high sticking?

The NHL has two types of puck/stick fouls. Rule 60, where a player hits another player with their stick when it is above shoulder height (high sticking), and Rule 80, which is where a puck is hit out of the air above shoulder height with a stick. The former is a penalty on the player, and the latter is a stoppage of play unless the player who bats the puck does so to an opponent or he bats it into his own net (usually a deflection), in which case that counts as a goal.

In this goal, it was the offensive player, Vilardi who has the puck go off his stick high above shoulder height. Had the Oilers gained possession immediately, this would have been a non-issue. However, Vilardi retained possession of the puck and was able to pass it to Moore for the goal. This should have been blown dead.

The NHL has video review for what is called “missed stoppages of play in the offensive zone that lead to goals” that was added in 2019–20. These can be used by coaches to challenge a goal, but are automatically triggered by the NHL when they appear to happen in the final minute of regulation or in overtime. This is what was triggered following the Moore goal.

Why was the goal not called back?

Looking at the videos, it’s pretty clear that the puck changed direction in mid-air and looks to have certainly gone off of Vilardi’s stick in the air. However, the NHL needs to see conclusive proof that the puck went off of specifically Vilardi’s stick in the battle, that his stick was above the shoulders, and that he retained possession. In this case, all three boxes should have been checked off with ease.

There has been an argument floating around that this should have been negated because the puck hit Ekholm first in the back, but the rule is that the opposing player needs to have control of the puck to negate the high stick. Being struck with the puck is not possession.

In a world with puck tracking technology and dozens of cameras across the ice, it is frankly ridiculous that this goal was allowed to stand on the grounds that there was not uncontroversial proof that it went off of Vilardi’s stick. It looks very clear from the replay that it went off of the Kings’ players stick well above his shoulders. Purposefully or inadvertently does not matter in this case. It looks to have gone off of his stick and it should not have counted.

Keeping spirits high

Was this the best game that the Oilers have ever played? No, of course not. Do they still need more production at 5v5 and need to try to play more disciplined even in a series where it feels like every soft call is going against them? Yes absolutely.

However, none of this negates the fact that the goal should not have counted. The Oilers were handed a really tough blow in this one, and it should have gone the other way. They’ll need to look past this as fast as they can and focus on their own game heading into Game 4.


  1. Fire Bettman, money hungry useless Commissioner of NHL… moon them cheating referees who have been paid off for the American 🇺🇸 teams to win…and let Kane lay a serious whooping on loud mouth Doughty… 🏒🏒

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