The turning point in Tuesday night's clutch 5-4 shootout win for the Phoenix Coyotes? When Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford laid out Gilbert Brule with 6:13 left in regulation, caused a scrum and earned both a major penalty and a game misconduct for what the official said was a check to the head.
Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle was given a roughing minor, setting up 2 minutes of 4-on-4 (where the Coyotes have been better than the Kings this season) followed by 3 minutes of power-play time that resulted in Radim Vrbata's 30th goal of the season to tie the game. Phoenix scored twice in the shootout to win.
(An aside: Vrbata now has 12 more goals and 16 more points than anyone else on the Coyotes other than Ray Whitney. He'll never get Hart Trophy consideration because of his location and renown; but there's absolutely no logical argument why he shouldn't if the Coyotes make the dance.)
Helene Elliott of the LA Times reports that Clifford's been suspended pending a hearing with Shanahan.
Watching the replay, did Clifford get the head or was it a hard hit to the shoulder that jostled the head of Brule? Here's how the admittedly partisan Dustin Brown saw it, via LA Kings Insider:
"It was originally a two-minute penalty. I guess the linesman came over and said it was a five. It is what it is. The only issue — I haven't seen it, maybe it was a five, maybe it wasn't — but they had the two on the board for a minute, and then they come over and tell him? I think that stuff should happen immediately. I know there was a big pile-up, but they put the two-minute penalty up and put him in the box. Then the linesman came over after the fact. If he thought it was a five-minute major right away, he should have been over there right away.''
So it was a two that became a five and a gamer. It's a fair gripe from the Kings; it may not matter if the NHL and Brendan Shanahan deem this as a hit in which the head was the principal point of contact. If they do … it may take another camera angle, because I find this one a little inconclusive. Also, Clifford's not exactly known for this kind of stuff.
UPDATE: Word is that there's no hearing scheduled for Clifford as of Wednesday morning and there may not be one.