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updated: 5/31/2013 5:42 AM

NHL rewards ref who took away Hawks' goal

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  • Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook argues a ruling by an official calling off a goal by Niklas Hjalmarsson in the third period of Game 7 Thursday at the United Center.

      Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook argues a ruling by an official calling off a goal by Niklas Hjalmarsson in the third period of Game 7 Thursday at the United Center.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer


The goal that wasn't a goal from Game 7 continued to be talked about Thursday as the NHL was rewarding Stephen Walkom, the referee who made the controversial call, by promoting him to the next round.

Walkom blew the whistle just as Niklas Hjalmarsson was blasting the puck past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard with 1:47 to play because of a scuffle in front of the Detroit bench between Kyle Quincey and Brandon Saad.

Both players got coincidental roughing penalties while Walkom waved off the goal that might have decided the game in regulation.

The Hawks eventually won the contest on Brent Seabrook's goal in overtime.

"I almost threw my stick up in the stands there," Hjalmarsson said. "I got pretty mad. I got pretty happy when I thought I scored. I was probably looking like a fool celebrating in the middle of the ice."

The Hawks used the intermission between the third period and overtime to regroup.

"At the end of the day, there's nothing you can do but move on," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "You're going to overtime and it was no goal, so you can't just sit around and feel sorry. There's still a game, there's still overtime and still somebody's got to score another goal to win it."

The NHL stood firmly behind Walkom on Thursday by naming him one of the referees to work the conference finals.

NHL vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy explained to TSN that Walkom's job on the play was to watch behind the play and not concern himself with the puck. The whistle was blown before the goal, and the league agreed that the no-goal call was, "absolutely correct."

Saad didn't think he did anything to warrant a penalty on the play.

"I just grabbed onto the guy so I didn't fall into the bench," Saad said.

Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser, who writes an opinion column for TSN said: "Most confusing to me is the referee's decision to assess 'coincidental' minor penalties on the play. It was most obvious that Quincey was the aggressor when he finished the check on Brandon Saad and knocked/pushed the Hawk player with suspended animation on the top dasher board and into the Red Wings bench.

"The best course of action for any referee, especially one with Stephen Walkom's experience, should have been to skate to Quincey and Saad (as he did), but instead of deciding to stop the play, referee Walkom should have verbally instructed both players to get up and move on thereby allowing play to continue. No harm-no foul would be the ultimate and appropriate verdict rendered."

Walkom, the NHL's former director of officiating, also was one of the referees from Game 3 of the Phoenix series last spring (with Ian Walsh) who failed to call a penalty on Raffi Torres for his hit on Marian Hossa that earned a 25-game suspension.

Starting over:

The third intermission before overtime on Wednesday couldn't have come at a better time for the Hawks, who needed to get over Niklas Hjalmarsson's disallowed goal with 1:47 to play.

"Sometimes your heart kind of sinks a little bit and you tend to sit back on your heels," Jonathan Toews said. "We didn't let that bother us. We didn't think about what could have been. We just knew that we needed to score another one."

The Hawks managed to win the series despite being down 3-1.

"It's not the way you want to win a series, going down three games to one and having to come back like that," Toews said. "But you do what you've got to do, and we dug deep and found a way. To come out on top given the situation we were in three games ago, it's pretty amazing. It just goes to show the character we have, on top of the ability and the potential this team has.

"It's too early to go home," Toews said. "We don't want to go home yet. We want to keep playing hockey for two more months."

Working late:

Brent Seabrook loves overtime.

His goal in OT on Wednesday was the first of his career in the playoffs, but he has scored twice during the regular season in extra time.

"Seabs is a great overtime player," Patrick Sharp said. "He always finds a way to create something."

Step right up:

Tickets for potential 2013 Stanley Cup Final home games will go on sale at noon Friday. Due to limited inventory, the tickets will be available for purchase exclusively at or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.

Each customer will be limited to four total tickets. Refunds for any unplayed games will be available at the point of purchase.

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