In the recap I was not sure if giving Tom Poti a delay of game penalty after he threw Jason Blake into the net just before Lee Stempniak was going to bury Ian White's great pass was justified. General Borschevsky made the following comment in the recap which made me hunt down the actual rule because I remembered a goal against the Leafs counting in a similar situation:
The net getting knocked off was completely inconsequential to the play. Washington never touched the puck so the only reason the whistle went was because the Leafs had scored. The goalie was way out of position, and the shooter was already in possession of the puck, directing it towards the goal. The time between the net coming off and the puck going in is less then a full second.
The goal should’ve counted. Knocking the net off right before the puck crosses the line because your goalie is out of position and there’s nothing else you can do is not a legitmate hockey play and a two-minute penalty does not suffice. It should be an automatic goal, or at the very least, treated like throwing the stick or covering the puck with a hand in the crease, and a penalty shot should’ve been awarded PLUS a delay of game penalty.
The full rule and explanation are after the jump
From the NHL Rulebook:
63.6 Awarded Goal - In the event that the goal post is displaced, either deliberately or accidentally, by a defending player, prior to the puck crossing the goal line between the normal position of the goalposts, the Referee may award a goal.
In order to award a goal in this situation, the goal post must have been displaced by the actions a defending player, the puck must have been shot (or the player must be in the act of shooting) at the goal prior to the goal post being displaced, and it must be determined that the puck would have entered the net between the normal position of the goal posts.
When the goal post has been displaced deliberately by the defending team when their goalkeeper has been removed for an extra attacker thereby preventing an impending goal by the attacking team, the Referee shall award a goal to the attacking team.
The goal frame is considered to be displaced if either or both goal pegs are no longer in their respective holes in the ice, or the net has come completely off one or both pegs, prior to or as the puck enters the goal.
The bold part is the one that applies. When the net is lifted the puck is on its way to Lee Stempniak and he has his stick cocked and ready to score. Unfortunately, it would tkae a pretty generous interpretation of the rule to argue that he was in the act of shooting when he didn't even have the puck. I do agree that the rule could do with a lot harsher penalty for dislodging the net but in this case I think that they got it right. This is the second time in a week (along with Van Massenhoven's call on the Gonchar goal) that the much maligned NHL referees have gotten a tough call correct.