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Florida Panthers Goalie Spencer Knight Loses Mask, Play Goes On



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Florida Panthers goalie Spencer Knight skates back to his net during a break in the action during a game against the Hurricanes earlier this month. — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

SUNRISE — Florida Panthers goalie Spencer Knight found himself in a dangerous situation Saturday night when he lost his protective mask and officials allowed play to continue around him.

“I just had to keep playing and obviously hope I don’t get hit in the head,’’ Knight told FHN on Sunday.

As it stands right now, a goalie playing without a mask is legal in the NHL — under certain conditions.

According to the officials on the ice late in the third period Saturday, those conditions were met.

With 27 seconds remaining in a tied game with the St. Louis Blues buzzing Knight deep in the offensive zone, Aaron Ekblad ran into Knight, dislodging his mask.

Play continued because Ryan O’Reilly had the puck behind the Florida net.

O’Reilly skated into the faceoff circle and got a shot off — which Knight stopped with his blocker — before play was finally halted due to the equipment issue at hand.

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The Blues and Panthers eventually made it to overtime where Jordan Kyrou completed the St. Louis comeback with a 5-4 win.

”It hit me in the blocker, so I wasn’t too scared,” Knight said. “I think everyone was safe and after the situation, everyone knows that safety’s first. I think no one’s trying to hurt anyone out there and I think we have to make sure everyone’s safe.

“After O’Reilly shot the puck, he came over and said that he didn’t see and showed some respect. It was all good.”

The Blues were able to keep playing due to Rule 9.6 in the NHL rulebook, which states: When the opposing team has control of the puck [after a goalkeeper lost his helmet], play shall only be stopped if there is no immediate and impending scoring opportunity.

The judgement call on whether or not the play is a scoring chance is at the discretion of the officials on the ice.

“They are trying to do their best to protect the goalie, but to allow a scoring chance to develop,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said of the rule.

It has been a rule that has made headlines around the league over the last week.

On Friday, Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck had his helmet knocked off after Josh Morrissey collided with Jamie Benn, sending him into his goaltender.

Hellebuyck was down on the ice after the collision but play went on as Dallas was in possession of the puck.

Four seconds after the collision, Stars forward Jason Robertson shot at the open net while a helmet-less Hellebuyck was still down and out of position.

“Those refs made a mistake. … They put me in danger,” he told reporters on Saturday.

“A lot of bad things that could have came from that. Plain and simple, when a goalie’s mask gets knocked off, the play needs to get blown dead.”

While the 21-year-old Knight did not have much to say about the rule — stating that he was unsure of the specifics of the rule and trusted the referees — Hellebuyck, a regular attendee of NHL competition committee meetings, is looking to make a change to it.

“What I would like to see happen is if that puck’s not on its way into the net or in the crease with a guy finishing in the net, the play gets called. That’s immediate,” Hellebuyck said.

“I think the rule needs to be changed where the war room can say, ‘OK, that needed to get blown dead.’”

It is a judgement call that referees have to make quickly, especially with the pace of the game.

In Knight’s case, O’Reilly collected the puck from behind the net and got his shot off in five seconds. Robertson got his shot on Hellebuyck off in four.

“I feel like four seconds is an eternity,” Jets forward Adam Lowry told the Winnipeg Sun.

“You can get up and down the ice in four seconds… you can get a rush and you can get a chance at the other end. Four seconds, for a player to lay on the ice without a helmet on, it’s a long time.”



  • When: Monday, 9:30 p.m.
  • Where: Rogers Place; Edmonton, Alberta
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Season Series (Oilers lead 1-0): Edmonton 4, Florida (Nov. 12)
  • Last season: Split 1-1
  • All-time regular season series: Edmonton leads 22-14-0, 3 ties

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