Panthers credited with controversial shootout goal against Lightning

Should the goal have counted?

On Wednesday night, the Florida Panthers needed a goal from Vincent Trocheck to keep their shootout hopes alive against the Tampa Bay Lightning. A failed attempt would complete a great comeback by Tampa and give the Lightning a victory in the season's first "Battle of Florida."

Trocheck skated in on net and attempted to stick-handle Lightning goalie Ben Bishop into submission. Bishop stayed patient and Trocheck tried to make a move to the outside before looking to stuff the puck five-hole.

As he made that final move, Trocheck appeared to lose control of the puck as it hopped over his stick blade and slid away from the net as he whiffed on the shot attempt. He made a last-ditch effort to recover,   reeling in the puck and flinging it in on an open net. Bishop made a very half-hearted attempt at a glove save, as he figured the attempt -- and the game -- was over. The refs on the ice confirmed his assumption, saying Trocheck's attempt had ended before the goal.

But as the Lightning celebrated the victory, the play went to review in Toronto. The referees came back with a ruling and, much to the shock of pretty much everyone, the goal was counted. Here's the official explanation:

In the third round of the Panthers/Lightning shootout, video review determined that Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck kept the puck in motion towards the goal before his shot attempt. According to Rule 24.2 "The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent's goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete." Good goal Florida.

You can argue that the shooter lost possession and didn't fulfill a continuous attempt on net, but the main aspect that the NHL pointed to was the puck staying in forward motion.

The big problem there is that the puck didn't actually appear to do so. After Trocheck whiffed on his first attempt, the puck didn't stay in a forward motion toward the goal line and appeared to travel laterally at best.

Rarely do you ever see a play like this ruled as a good goal in the shootout, and the rulebook seems to indicate it shouldn't. Former NHL senior referee Kerry Fraser pointed to the league favoring shooters, not goalies in the breakaway challenge, but seemed to agree that the goal shouldn't have counted.

Regardless, the shootout was extended and Trocheck's goal ultimately became somewhat of a moot point, as the Lightning would go on to win regardless. Hockey fans should just hope this ruling doesn't open up a can of worms for the shootout moving forward.

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