Instead, referee Wes McCauley, who was peering through the top of the net from behind the cage, quickly waved his arms to call the play dead and the NHL's Situation Room upheld the call on the ice after conducting a video review.
It would have been the all-important second goal of what was a dominating first period. Instead Chicago never scored again en route to a 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
"I thought the whistle was a little quick, but that's the way it is," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "It's frustrating when the bounces don't go your way."
The play in question happened 12:32 into the first period when Toews wrapped the puck around the net and Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask went down to cover the goal line. Marian Hossa tried to poke the puck into the net, but the puck was not visible and McCauley quickly waved his arms.
Toews called it a quick whistle, but Hossa claimed he never heard a whistle and coach Joel Quenneville said he was told by the officials that McCauley's intention was to blow the whistle.
"I just tried to battle for the space and all of a sudden I saw the loose puck and I tried to put my stick at the puck," Hossa said. "I just felt the puck was crossing the line and the ref said he made the whistle. I didn't hear the whistle, but there was so much noise in the building so I don't know if the referee made the whistle so early or not. But they decided and we have to move on."
Replays showed the puck actually did cross the goal line -- but not before McCauley made his decision to stop play.