October 29, 2011
The San Jose Sharks entered their game with the New York Islanders on Saturday night with a power play clicking at 20.7 percent, and they connected for another power-play goal via Joe Pavelski(notes) in the first period.
So if you give the Sharks a 4-on-3 power play in overtime, and you give them an excellent chance to win the game. And the officials gave the Sharks such an opportunity 29 seconds into OT on a terrible blown call:
Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic(notes) was hit with a puck-over-the-glass delay of game penalty … despite the puck deflecting off the glass before going over. Brent Burns(notes) scored the game winner, giving San Jose the 3-2 win and their fifth road win in their six-game road trip.
You can see the puck change direction as it hits the glass. Crank up your speakers, and you can hear it hit the glass, too. Chris Botta of the New York Times summed it up:
"That's as horrific a piece of officiating by 4 men as you will find at any level of hockey. NHL hockey ops doesn't need til tomorrow to release an NFL-like "Refs blew it" statement. Send it out now, gentlemen."
Absolutely horrible, inexcusable call, made all the uglier by the concurrent scoreboard replays showing the mistake while the referees "conferenced" over their error, of which they obviously lacked the clear view. Remember the golden rule when affecting the outcomes of games: First, do no harm.
Look, the Islanders had their chances to win this thing in regulation, and when adversity hits, teams have to up their effort to overcome it — channel that frustration into your penalty kill and prolong the game.
That said: There's nothing more deflating for a team than seeing its game dramatically altered by a blown call. Especially on a penalty that most players, and many hockey fans, consider utter [expletive].
The solution is simple: Allow plays like this to be confirmed via video review through a coach's challenge.
If you want a team to ante up a timeout for that right, the Islanders hadn't used theirs yet. A coach's challenge in this spot would have given us two wonderful things: The sight of Jack Capuano petulantly throwing the red flag on the ice and the game officials getting this call correct. Which, unfortunately for the Islanders, they didn't.