Leafs successful as Babcock makes first coach’s challenge in NHL history

TORONTO — It didn’t take long for one of the NHL’s new rules to get its first test.

On the opening night of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mike Babcock initiated the first coach’s challenge in NHL history and was successful in overturning a goal by the Montreal Canadiens.

It looked like Jeff Petry had scored 6:36 into the second period Wednesday night, but Babcock challenged it on the grounds that Tomas Plekanec interfered with goaltender Jonathan Bernier.

Coach’s challenges are new to the NHL this season and can be made on goals involving goalie interference or offside plays.

Referees Frederik L’Ecuyer and Dan O’Rourke looked at the replay by the penalty box at Air Canada Centre and determined Plekanec made incidental contact with Bernier and therefore it was not a goal.

Because he won the challenge, Babcock would be able to challenge another play later in the game.

As part of the new rule, a coach must have his timeout left in order to challenge a goal.

The league takes over the expanded video review for the final minute of the third period and all of overtime.

Coaches weren’t allowed to try during the pre-season, but Michel Therrien of the Canadiens said his staff was prepared.

“This is something new for everyone, and we’re going to learn through the course of the season,” Therrien said after the morning skate. “We’re ready. We’re anticipating and went through different situations with our staff because a lot of times behind the bench it’s tough to make that call.”

The other new rule is three-on-three play in overtime, replacing four-on-four in an effort to reduce shootouts.

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Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press

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