Avalanche Game 4 OT winner clouded by controversy

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TAMPA — As the Colorado Avalanche players took to the ice to celebrate their overtime win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night, frustration was already rising from the Tampa Bay Lightning bench.

The Lightning appeared to challenge Nazem Kadri’s game-winner with 7:58 remaining in overtime, with coach Jon Cooper making a tense and emotional statement later that night. And no, it didn’t seem like the concern was about Kadri’s shot, which beat Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy over his right shoulder before briefly disappearing as the puck stuck in the net.

Afterwards, the focus shifted instead to whether Colorado made an illegal line change that directly led to Kadri’s goal, which gave the Avalanche a 3-2 victory over the road and gave him control of the best of seven series.

The Avalanche now hold a 3-1 series lead, with Game 5 scheduled for Friday night in Colorado.

Nazem Kadri puts Avalanche close to winning title with OT winner in Game 4

“This one is going to sting a lot more than the others, just because he was taking…it was potentially…I don’t know…It’s hard for me,” Cooper said during his short post-match press conference on Wednesday evening. “It’s going to be difficult for me to speak… you’ll see what I mean when you see the winning goal. My heart breaks for the players because we should probably still be playing.

Although Cooper did not explicitly mention the violation of too many men on the ice during his press conference, during which he only answered a question before apologizing. , a closer look at the play shows why Tampa Bay, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, was angry.

A closer look at the broadcast showed the Avalanche had six skaters on the ice before Kadri scored. When Kadri headed to the net to beat Vasilevskiy, Colorado star Nathan MacKinnon still had both feet on the ice as he tried to jump off the bench to complete the change. NHL rules state that skaters must be within five feet of their bench and out of the ensuing play before a shift change is made.

On Thursday, Cooper made it clear he believed the referees got it wrong on the ice, but he wanted to move on and look to the rest of the series.

“I had some excitement for Game 5 and that’s where now my mind goes to how to win this,” Cooper said. “Not [anything] we can do to go back. They missed it. It’s unfortunate, but it’s water under the bridge now. Let’s get ready. It should be one hell of a Game 5.”

Penalties for too many men, even when a goal is scored, are not reviewable.

“Too many men on the ice penalty is a judgment that can be made by any of the four on-ice officials,” NHL Hockey Operations said in a late-night statement. “After the game, Hockey Operations met with the four officials, as per their usual protocol. When discussing the game-winning goal, each of the four referees indicated that they hadn’t seen too many men on the ice on play.”

The controversy only continued after the match, when the official media score sheet put six skaters on the ice for Kadri’s goal. The NHL later told reporters that was a mistake, and Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson was listed in error.

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Wednesday night he thought the goal was good no matter what narrative Tampa Bay tried to push. “I didn’t hear any confusion,” he said.

Kadri, who was playing the series opener after undergoing thumb surgery earlier in the month, said he was also unsure why Cooper would question the legitimacy of his goal.

“I’m not quite sure what he really was, what he was thinking and why it shouldn’t have counted. It confuses me a bit,” Kadri said Wednesday. the back of the net, end of story, so I don’t know why he would say that.”

Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh didn’t have much to say about Thursday’s call, noting that as a player, “you’re looking for every inch to get an advantage and try to jump into the game. .”


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