The New York Islanders thought they had fought off a St. Louis Blues comeback and won Saturday afternoon's game 4-3 in overtime after a Thomas Vanek goal. Nassau Coliseum was loud. Islanders players were celebrating. Even the Blues seemed resigned to the fact that it was a good goal and they had lost.
Except the play went to review where the Situation Room in Toronto overturned the "good goal" call on the ice and ruled it a distinct kicking motion, negating Vanek's winning tally.
Here's the official ruling from the NHL Situation Room blog:
At 3:45 of overtime in the Blues/Islanders game, video review determined that New York's Thomas Vanek used his left skate to kick the puck into the St. Louis net. According to Rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net." No goal New York Islanders.
The game would move to a shootout where the Blues secured the extra point after a Kevin Shattenkirk goal.
Vanek's skate makes contact with the puck as he's dragging his skate across the crease and turning his body. Would you call that "distinct?"
If we've learned anything from the overturned Daniel Sedin goal during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, the meaning of "distinct" isn't as black and white as you may believe.
"I don't know it's because of who we are," said Vanek afterward. "I think if that's Pittsburgh or some of those top teams, that's maybe a goal."
"The referees made the right call on the ice," said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. "I'll say that. I looked at it again. It's their decision in Toronto, obviously, they must have saw something conclusive to overturn it."
When asked about Vanek feeding the conspiracy theorists, Capuano declined to comment.
Moving past the unfortunate end of the game for the Islanders, a disturbing trend was further put on display by the end result. As Newsday's Arthur Staple pointed out, this was the seventh time this season that the Islanders have allowed the tying or winning goal in the final two minutes of the third period. They're also 7-4-4 when leading after two periods. Those eight losses are the most in in the NHL.
From where the Islanders sit in the Eastern Conference playoff picture -- 14th place, six points out of a wild card spot and the third seed in the Metropolitan Division -- points are invaluable at this stage. It took a late-season streak a year ago just to get into eighth seed.
Games like the one on Saturday further reinforce the thin line the Islanders currently sit between getting back into the playoffs and welcoming an early summer. A lost point here. A point lost there. Those are adding up quick for the Islanders.
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