The last-place Florida Panthers have given up goals in a lot of ways this season, but this is a new one: In a 4-3 loss at St. Louis on Tuesday night, a puck rolled into the Panthers’ net after bouncing off a referee’s, err, man region.
The goal was disallowed based on a rule that says a score can’t count “when the puck has deflected directly into the net off an official” — but that won’t stop it from making the highlight shows and blogs.
St. Louis’ Robert Bartuzzo was the player who fired in a pass to go around the net with a little over 5½ minutes left in the first period. Referee Tim Peel was in the corner, and the puck hit him smack in that sensitive area before slipping into the net past Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo's skate.
Peel left the ice but returned at the beginning of the second period.
Bartuzzo said he initially thought the goal was going to count, and he clearly felt bad about where he hit Peel.
"I didn't know the rule obviously," Bartuzzo said after the game. "I threw my hands in the air. I felt bad. Anytime you hit a ref, it's tough on them. I apologized to him in the second period. He's a good guy. Maybe I'll buy him a dinner sometime."
If you’re wondering how rare it is for a puck to go in off any referee body part, the Panthers’ longtime color commentator Denis Potvin said on the Fox Sports Florida broadcast that, “I have never seen this.”
The Panthers’ estimable play-by-play announcer Steve Goldstein followed up by narrating the slow-mo replay as such: “This one caught him right in the midsection. Look at that. I mean, you can’t get a worse break than that.”
Tell me about it.
The Panthers lost the game after allowing four goals in the final period. You can classify that as a stomach punch, but at least it doesn’t hurt as much as a puck in the you-know-where.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this post.
David Selig is Senior Digital Editor at the Sun Sentinel. Contact him at email@example.com.