The King was not amused.
The New York Rangers won Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators, 3-2, but it was a closer game in the end than goalie Henrik Lundqvist believed it should have been. That's because with 38.4 seconds remaining, a scrum in his crease resulted in a goal scored by Jason Spezza on a play in which Lundqvist was interfered with by Chris Neil and it appeared Neil kicked the puck over the line.
"It's an absolute joke. Oh my god, it scares me. It's such an obvious play, goalie interference, and a kick. And they still call it a goal? That scares me, that someone can call that. It still upsets me," he said after the game.
"Someone wants them back in the game obviously. There's no other explanation. "
Here's the play in question that made it a 3-2 game:
(Not for nothing, but with all the dogging that goes on here about NBC analysts "behind the glass" during games, Bryan Hayward absolutely killed it on this sequence, getting right to the interference call, which was the key to the play.)
The NHL's situation room explained its decision to award the goal on its Situation Room blog:
At 19:21 of the third period in the Rangers/Senators game, video review was used to determine if Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil kicked the puck into the New York net. Video review was inconclusive in determining if Chris Neil's left skate propelled the puck into the net. Call on the ice stands, good goal Ottawa.
Inconclusive. Which of course means that for all the chatter about the play being "taken out of the hands" of the on-ice officials, it's that blundering zebra Tim Peel at the heart of yet another controversial blown call. If he doesn't signal that it's a goal, then inconclusive means it isn't one. So it starts with him.
As for the notion Neil didn't kick the puck, we agree with the NHL: Obviously, the puck simply rolled over a Mario Kart power-up and took off on its own. If only Lundqvist wasn't out of turtle shells ...
Bottom line, as we've said for ages: Forget the skate kick. Forget the inconclusive nature of the thing. Give John Tortorella a Coach's Challenge that he can use once per game, have the War Room see Chris Neil using Lundqvist as a Swiffer, and wave off the goal.
Here's the CBC feed:
And here's Lundqvist repeating some of his comments from earlier:
Meanwhile, kudos to the New York Rangers for extending their series against the Senators to a Game 7 on Thursday night with a 3-2 win.
They skated into a hostile environment, against a team getting their injured captain back and without their own playoff hero Brian Boyle, and skated out with a victory.
Full marks to Brad Richards, who acted like an orchestra leader on the power play to set up a goal and score one; and full marks to Henrik Lundqvist, who made 25 saves that included a 10-bell effort against Daniel Alfredsson that shifted the game's momentum. In Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan, the Rangers have a heck of a line.
In a series that's seen its share of inconstant, sometimes horrific officiating, who knows how Game 7 will play out.
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