There was no chance the puck could go in. Somehow, it did.
Or did it?
Replays from above showed that the puck didn’t go in the front of the goal. It slipped under the side when someone bumped the net and knocked it off the moorings. Though everyone in the TV audience saw the mishap, the replay officials missed it. The goal stood, leaving the Wild infuriated after the Colorado Avalanche’s 4-3 victory Thursday night.
“If I’m paying those guys’ salaries, I don’t want them in there,” Minnesota center Wes Walz said. “It’s a joke. Why do we even have replay officials if they’re not going to call that?”
Marek Svatos scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period and Peter Budaj made some big saves in the final two periods for his first win since Nov. 18. Antti Laaksonen and Andrew Brunette also scored for Colorado, which won for the second time in six games despite failing to score on its power play (0-for-7) for the first time in nine games.
But it was McLean’s goal that garnered most of the postgame attention.
“Everybody talked about it. I guess it wasn’t a goal,” Avs coach Joel Quenneville said. “We caught a break. We have had a couple against us this year, too.”
So have the Wild. This one was just too much to take.
“On a goal like that, they should take a look at it even more precisely,” Minnesota forward Marian Gaborik said. “If they hadn’t got that goal it would have been a whole different game.”
Minnesota had plenty of good scoring chances after a sluggish start—one shot in the game’s first 11 minutes—but couldn’t get anything past Budaj after getting its third goal midway through the second period.
“That’s the way it is,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “We have to accept everything that is done without any complaints. That’s the way it is, but it is a disgrace.”
Colorado led by one after the teams combined for five goals in the final seven minutes of the first period, then the Wild tied it on Koivu’s redirect of a shot by Zyuzin midway through the second. Svatos put the Avalanche ahead for good 36 seconds into the third period, one-timing Joe Sakic’s pass from behind the net for his team-leading 18th of the season.
Of course, getting game-winners is nothing new for Svatos. He had a pair in the playoffs two years ago and already has seven this season, a team record.
“There’s no secret. When it’s a tie game, I’m trying to score a goal,” Svatos said. “I did a few times. It’s a great feeling to be in the right time at the right spot.”
Budaj was, too.
Making his first start since Dec. 4, the rookie made some spectacular saves in the second period, including a sprawling stop on Burns’ breakaway and another while sitting on the ice. Budaj stopped 27 shots, including three tough chances after Svatos’ goal.
“I thought the story of the game tonight was how well he played, especially on the three glorious opportunities they had in the third off of turnovers deep,” Quenneville said. “It was nice to see him respond to the opportunity.”
It looked to be a defensive struggle in the early going, neither team getting good scoring chances. Then goals started flying in from all angles.
The flurry started with just over seven minutes left in the first period, when Laaksonen chased down his own shot from the left circle and flicked in the puck after it squeezed through Roloson’s pads. Brunette made it 2-0 less than two minutes later, redirecting a shot from Rob Blake.
Burns got Minnesota’s first goal on long shot through traffic with just under four minutes left, then McLean scored his disputed goal 68 seconds later to give Colorado its league-leading 50th goal in the first period this season.
Zyuzin scored with 20 seconds left in the first, one-timing Alexandre Daigle’s pass from the corner on a power play to cut Colorado’s lead to 3-2. But the way the Wild see it, that should have been the tying goal had the replay officials been paying attention.
“It cost us the game, basically,” Gaborik said.