The KHL Refereeing Department has issued a clarification of the circumstances surrounding SKA Saint Petersburg’s third and decisive goal in Friday’s 3-2 win over Metallurg Magnitogorsk in Game 4 of the 2016-17 Gagarin Cup final series.

In the 52nd minute of the match, with the score at 2-2, Metallurg launched a counter-attack with forward Jan Kovar in possession of the puck and skating into the SKA zone, when the referee stopped play and called a minor penalty against Kovar’s linemate, Danis Zaripov, for interference. On the resulting powerplay, a shot by SKA forward Patrik Hersley struck the facemask of Magnitogorsk goaltender Vasily Koshechkin and the puck rebounded to SKA defenseman Dinar Khafizullin, who promptly stroked the puck into the unguarded net. The controversy surrounds two refereeing decisions: to penalize Danis Zaripov and to allow play to continue after the puck struck the goaltender’s helmet.

Game time: 51:17. While Zaripov’s (№25) collision with SKA forward Vadim Shipachyov appeared only fleetingly on the periphery of the TV images, it is clear that the Metallurg man skated into Shipachyov’s back while the SKA player was attempting to close off Kovar’s foray down the flank. Therefore, the referee was correct to view the challenge as a foul, and a two-minute penalty for interference was the correct call.

Game time: 52:05. The footage shows that after striking Koshechkin’s facemask, the puck lands in front of Khafizullin, who immediately converted the chance. While it is customary for the referee to stop play after the puck has hit a goaltender’s mask, Rule 234 d) states, “Should a hard shot hit the goaltender's facemask while play is in progress, the play may be stopped at the discretion of the Referee only if no immediate scoring chance is presented to the opposing team.” As this was clearly an immediate scoring chance, the referee’s decision to allow the goal to stand was entirely correct.

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