DETROIT — Kings defenseman Drew Doughty raised his right arm automatically to indicate that a shot by Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall had bounced off the protective netting above the glass before it hit goaltender Jonathan Quick's back and dropped into the net with 26.1 seconds left in the third period Saturday.
Doughty's posture was almost casual. The Kings were protecting a one-goal lead in the final minute, but he expected the referee to blow the whistle for the stoppage that's supposed to result when the puck hits the netting and negate the apparent goal.
It never happened.
Referees Dan O'Halloran — at the goal line — and Rob Martell — stationed farther out — didn't see what Doughty and thousands of others saw. And because NHL rules don't allow for review in this circumstance, O'Halloran's ruling of a good goal stood. Buoyed by their good fortune, the Red Wings went on to win, 3-2, at Joe Louis Arena when Tomas Tatar scored the only goal of the shootout.
"It kind of sucks that you can't review it because it's tough for the refs to catch everything," said Doughty, who immediately tried to press his point with O'Halloran with no success. "It's unfortunate. We should have got two points tonight but didn't....
"It's crappy to lose a game that way and I wish it didn't happen like that."
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter didn't mince words.
"That's embarrassing for the league. It doesn't matter if we had scored it or they had scored it. That's embarrassing," he said.
"I told our [guys], 'We got screwed, right?'"
NHL Vice President Colin Campbell told The Times that executives working in the league's situation room in Toronto saw the play but were constrained by the lack of a rule that would allow them to look at it.
"Wish we could get involved but this is unreviewable. We are not allowed to get involved," he said.
Quick, who initially didn't know where the puck had gone, said he saw on the video that it had hit the netting.
"It's clear but nonreviewable so they get a goal that shouldn't have been a goal," he said. "So I'm sure we'll get one back here in the future. It's the way it works. Sometimes you get the bounce, sometimes you don't."
And sometimes you fall victim to a hole in the rule book.
"They could see the puck when Dwight King covered it with his hand. They couldn't see it when it went over the barn and came back in," Sutter said, referring to a penalty called on King at 18:15 of the third period for closing his hand on the puck. "If there wasn't a net there, they could have caught it and threw it back in and scored and they still had time when nobody would have saw it.
"What are they going to do at the outdoor game? What happens if it goes through a cumulus cloud and comes back down?"
Almost overshadowed by the bizarre play were Mike Richards ending a 23-game goal drought, the Kings' power play producing two goals after a two-for-33 slump, and nasty words exchanged by soon-to-be-U.S. Olympic teammates Quick and Jimmy Howard.
Richards gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 9:06 of the second period, when his shot deflected up and over Howard's shoulder during a power play. The Red Wings pulled even 41 seconds later, when Henrik Zetterberg finished off a slick pass from Gustav Nyquist.
Jeff Carter gave the Kings a 2-1 lead at 17:45 of the third period during a power play, when a shot by Doughty struck Richards' kneecap and bounced to Carter in the slot. But with King off serving that penalty, Kronwall's shot — which was deflected upward by Kings center Jarret Stoll — changed what seemed to be the likely outcome.
"It's disappointing. It was a back-and-forth game," Richards said. "We played pretty good. They played pretty good. We made some mistakes and you've got to score in the shootout, especially if you're going to win a game in the shootout, so that's disappointing too.
"We had some chances, especially at the end there and in overtime and we didn't bury them. We have to move on. We can't dwell on something that is out of our control."
Such as illogical rules. Sutter was asked whether this incident might prompt a change that would make that situation reviewable. "You'd have to talk to one of them stewards of the game," he said in a tone drenched with sarcasm.
Good point. But as the Kings got, it was only one point.