First, in linesman Steve Miller’s defense, no-one else in the Bell Centre was aware of the off-side at the time. There was no protest from the Canadiens coaching staff or the any of the players. The first time the issue was raised was in Michel Therrien’s postgame news conference when he called the play “clearly off side”.
And after everyone scrambled to review tapes it became clear that the linesman had blown the call.
The NBCSport Telecast showed it best.
No sense in beating up on officiating. Miller, who is from Stratford Ontario is a veteran of almost 1,000 regular season games and was working his 106th playoff game over the last 15 seasons. was working the lines in his 106th playoff game.
Hockey is a very quick game and sometimes they get things wrong in real time. Usually when a mistake is made at the lines it’s caused by a distraction or a player blocking the linesman’s view. In the screen capture, the linesman Miller is offscreen looking across the ice at Brian Boyle entering the zone on the far boards. At the time Boyle hit the line, the backchecking Devante Smith-Pelly in the middle of the picture may have blocked his view of Boyle as Filppula crossed the line ahead of the puck.
Hard to swallow if you’re a Montreal fan but the failed offside call didn’t create a breakaway or an odd man rush. Carey Price made an easy save on Boyle’s shot and steered the puck into the corner. It was the failure to defend from that point on that led to the game winner.