-- SOCHI, Russia -- It was the (non) goal that Russia won't soon forget.
There likely would not have been a T.J. Oshie shootout show for the ages in Saturday's dramatic Team USA victory over Russia had Fedor Tyutin's apparent goal been allowed to stand late in the third period.
Ah, but that's when it got interesting.
Tyutin's point shot found the back of the net and appeared to give the host Russians a 3-2 lead with 4:40 left in the third period, only to be disallowed after video review and resulting in mass confusion.
The net was barely dislodged but was indeed off its mooring slightly, with the peg bent up. There's no gray area here: IIHF video replay rules clearly indicate that if the net isn't completely in place, there's no goal.
Interestingly, though, an NHL official we spoke with after the game said if the exact same play had happened in an NHL game, he's pretty sure the goal would have been allowed because the net peg was bent but not totally off its moorings.
It's Rule 63.6 in 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 of a defending player or goalkeeper, 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."
So it appears very likely Tyutin's goal would have held up in the NHL, and Team USA's NHL-based players benefit because IIHF rules have no such room for interpretation (although they clearly should, in my mind).
Especially given that Team USA goalie Jonathan Quick appeared to be the one who moved the net peg to begin with.
"I don't know what happened there, but it was definitely a goal," said Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin. "Nobody [from Russia] touched the net, but the goalie touched the net so that the net moved. The referee had to see it. He should have given him two minutes."
Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov also felt the refs should have seen Quick push the net off.
"I do believe there was a mistake," he said through an interpreter.
And Quick's Los Angeles Kings teammate Slava Voynov of Russia was quoted by Russian media after the game as saying Quick always moves the goal like that at home in the NHL. Well, won't that be fun when the Kings all get back together after the break?
Quick, however, insisted he didn't know the net was off.
"Nope, not till after [the goal]. I looked at it, and you could see it," Quick said.
Hmmm, believe whom you will, folks. Either way, Tyutin didn't know what was going on after his goal celebration was halted.
"I'm still looking for the explanation," said Team USA center David Backes. "I still don't know if it was a high stick or net went off the mooring or God went in there and stopped it, I'm not sure."
Added Oshie: "I heard Blake Wheeler say 'no goal, no goal', but I don't think he really knew. I think he was just kind of hoping. So, when they waved it off, we knew we got by with one and time to bear down and go out and win the game."
Team USA coach Dan Bylsma had no idea, either, but he was relieved to catch a break.
"I didn't get an explanation on the no-goal call, so I'm not sure what the reasoning was," Bylsma said. "I was pretty sure that the puck had gone in the net, but didn't know and saw the official wave it off. Fortunate for us, obviously."
Some of the Russian players felt cheated, but star Ilya Kovalchuk was diplomatic. After all, it's not as if their tournament is over.
"There are rules, and everyone has to follow them. It wasn't something very bad, and I hope we will get a chance to play against them again," Kovalchuk said.
A rematch in the medal round? We can only hope.