In giving his annual state of the NHL address hours before Monday's Stanley Cup Final opener, commissioner Gary Bettman devoted a sizable portion defending the effectiveness of the league's controversial coach's challenge system, which has been under constant scrutiny since its implementation two season ago.
It was fitting then that a coach's challenge led to the reversal of the series' first goal early in Game 1, scored by one the NHL's biggest stars.
A pinpoint shot from the blue line by Predators defenseman P.K. Subban beat Penguins goalie Matt Murray 7:13 into the first period. On the surface, it appeared Nashville was off to an early lead. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan felt otherwise and challenged whether Filip Forsberg was offside as the Predators gained the attacking zone.
Upon further video review, officials ruled that was in fact the case.
As Forsberg corralled the pass, his left foot crossed into the Penguins zone while the puck remained on the blue line, negating the goal by a matter of inches, and seconds.
In its official explanation, the NHL said Forsberg "preceded the puck into the attacking zone, nor did he have possession and control before crossing the blue line," thus leading to the overturned call.
It's the type of nitpicking that has drawn the ire of some since the NHL rolled out its policy for reviewing goalie interference and offside before the 2015-16 season. Critics say unnecessarily long stoppages and an inconsistent interpretation of the rules work against a league that should be finding ways to increase scoring, not take it away.
In this case, the Penguins rode the momentum of the reversal to score three goals in the final 4:28 of the first period to take a 3-0 lead into intermission.
Earlier Monday, during a wide-ranging monologue, Bettman insisted coach's challenges are "working exactly as they are intended to."
"We hear the commentary," he added, "but the fact is it's our job to make sure the rules are complied with, and the video replay, through the coach's challenge on offsides, has worked exactly as we hoped it would."