LAS VEGAS — The kick — or non-kick — heard around the NHL gave the Kraken its first loss in its first game Tuesday night.

In the franchise opener against the Golden Knights, the Kraken took the loss following Chandler Stephenson’s game-winning tally. Those watching their first hockey game (or, honestly, even seasoned veterans) are likely wondering what constitutes an illegal kick to disallow a goal.

That goal came shortly after Morgan Geekie had tied things up 3-3 in the third period. Mark Stone slid the puck to Stephenson on an odd-man rush, and he angled his skate — with his toe coming off the ice — to direct the puck into the net.

Golden Knights 4, Kraken 3

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That’s how Vegas won the game. The officials determined it wasn’t a kicked puck after Kraken coach Dave Hakstol challenged the call, which leads to a review from the league’s headquarters in Toronto.

According to the NHL rule book, Rule 37.4, a “distinct kicking motion” will be deemed no-goal.

Plays that involve a puck entering the net as a direct result of a “distinct kicking motion” shall be ruled NO GOAL. A “distinct kicking motion,” for purposes of Video Review, is one where the video makes clear that an attacking Player has deliberately propelled the puck with a kick of his foot or skate and the puck subsequently enters the net

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It’s one of those rules (kind of like goalie interference, and get ready for that, new hockey fans) where the officials can be a bit subjective when determining a distinct kicking motion.

The ESPN broadcast Tuesday seemed to believe the deflection was a smart play on Stephenson’s part. The Kraken believed his toe leaving the ice indicated that intentionally kicked the puck into the net.

The rule clarifies:

A goal cannot be scored on a play where an attacking Player propels the puck with his skate into the net (even by means of a subsequent deflection off of another Player) using a “distinct kicking motion.”

Rule 49, though, explains:

A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal. A puck that is directed into the net by an attacking player’s skate shall be a legitimate goal as long as no distinct kicking motion is evident.

It would probably sting less for the Kraken if there was consistency with these calls. There’s examples, such as Thomas Vanek’s 2014 overtime goal called back, of kicks being called for far less egregious than Stephenson’s.

The “no kicking” rule started in the 1929-30 NHL season, and there has been no shortage of controversial kicks or no-kicks since. Marian Hossa has one of the most famous, when his kicked goal was allowed in Game 7 the 2015 Western Conference finals.

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Stephenson’s goal isn’t going to go down in history like Hossa’s, but it’s one Kraken fans will remember for a long time. Or at least until the next kicked goal in the Kraken’s favor.

Johansson out

Forward Marcus Johansson was injured in Tuesday’s game, and according to Hakstol will be out indefinitely. He was placed on injured reserve, and Kole Lind was recalled from AHL Charlotte.

Johansson finished the game at Vegas, and was on the ice as the game ended. He played with Alex Wennberg and Joonas Donskoi for most of the contest.

Hakstol responds to Vegas

Golden Knights captain Mark Stone took offense to a stick-twirling motion after Geekie’s tying goal Tuesday, saying, “The guy kind of did a little stick twirl and stared the bench down, so it kind of got our line fired up.”

Hakstol said Wednesday that he didn’t see any wrongdoing by Geekie.

“I know Morgan really well, and that’s not his personality,” he said. “In fact, he does have a friend that plays for Vegas, too. I looked at it on tape just to try to confirm or see it, and there’s really nothing there. There’s certainly no intention; there never would be.”

Notes

  • Defenseman Dennis Cholowski was a late roster scratch after Jamie Oleksiak came off the COVID-19 protocol list Tuesday night, and Wednesday the team waived him with the intention of sending him to AHL Charlotte.
  • Forward Alexander True was sent outright to Charlotte as well. He was removed from the roster to make room for the forwards returning from COVID-19 protocol ahead of the game at Vegas.