Late in the third period of Game 7 between the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins on Sunday, a “Goal” graphic on the TNT scorebug preempted Florida’s actual game-tying goal by about 25 seconds, prompting speculation about how it happened and whether or not the outcome was “rigged” in order to get the game into overtime.
Turns out, it was simply the case of someone hitting the wrong button.
As Florida scrambled to even the game up before regulation, and their season, ended, the scorebug in the top left corner suddenly read “GOAL” and was accompanied by the Panthers’ logo despite the fact that play was still ongoing. It likely would have just been written off as a glitch if not for the fact that the Panthers ended up scoring soon after.
WHAT DID THE TNT SCOREBUG KNOW??? pic.twitter.com/XcKnZIoxVO
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 1, 2023
Speculation ran rampant. Some suspected that the game delay was 25 seconds, which accounted for the difference in time between the graphic and the actual goal. Others thought the timing seemed to line up with when the Panthers pulled their goalie, prompting the assumption that the broadcast meant to activate the “Empty Net” graphic but hit the wrong button. And of course, there were others who used the opportunity to latch onto the notion that the outcome was fixed in some way, a conspiracy theory that’s taken hold across other leagues in recent weeks, including the NFL and NBA.
Like most conspiracy theories, the truth is just a bit more mundane. A source associated with the broadcast confirmed to Awful Announcing that the error came from an operator accidentally hitting the goal animation instead of the empty net animation, as they intended. Per the source, the mouse cursor clipped the wrong animation as the two options are directly next to one another on the screen.
That’s also the reason that the scorebug disappears after the “GOAL” graphic was activated and later returns with the “Empty Net” slide-out graphic.
The source confirmed that the error has nothing to do with the feed being delayed or any wild conspiracies to get the game into overtime for the sake of ratings.
The Panthers are now set to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.