Oilers’ loss highlighted by more goalie interference questions

J.T. Compher scored in overtime as the Avalanche topped the Oilers 4-3.

The ink on the National Hockey league’s most recent memo had not even dried when Colorado head coach Jared Bednar watched the most obvious case of goaltender interference announced as a goal.

OK. Don’t panic.

The on-ice officials were just checking to see that the puck had crossed the goal line. It had, securely under Jonathan Bernier’s catching glove, which was clearly pushed over the line by Oiler Drake Caggiula’s stick. Bednar then had to use his challenge, and the Situation Room in Toronto made the obvious call: no goal.

Phew. Maybe the NHL does know what it’s doing with video replay after all.

But here is yet another problem with the NHL’s current replay regimen:

Had Bednar already used his challenge, that goal would have counted. A game-tying goal in what would end up as a 4-3 overtime win for Colorado over Edmonton, would have been replayed across the hockey world this morning, and we all would have said: “How on earth can THAT be a goal?”

“You see the way they’re getting called, and you never really know for certain,” said Bednar. “But he covered it … two feet off the goal line. (Caggiula) pushed his glove into the net. The whistle should be goin’.”

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You have to wonder why the on-ice officials, two solid veterans in Dan O’Halloran and Justin St. Pierre, can not be trusted to make a call as obvious as this one? Or, had they known Bednar was out of challenges, would they have found a way to save face for the NHL and disallow the goal?

He’s the problem: Nobody has a clue what the answer to those questions are, even after the league recently sent out a fresh take on goalie interference.

“I’m certain they’re going to find a way to … try and clean it up,” Bednar said. “I’m clear on the rules and how they read, but you see the odd (call) that you don’t understand. Then we get a memo the other day saying they would look at things a little differently, and I saw a goal in the Boston-St. Louis game earlier that I’m unclear on now.

“As coaches it keeps you guessing. You’ve got to go with your gut. You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some,” he said. “I’m sure there are going to be some conversations about them, with the GMs and the league, try and clean it up.”

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This was a night when Connor McDavid had two goals, the second with 28 seconds to go and goalie Al Montoya on the bench. It was a quirky game, that not surprisingly got stretched to overtime when McDavid scored, but never looked like it would after that Caggiula non-goal.

On that play, Mikko Rantanen was assessed a holding penalty for pinning Caggiula at the top of the crease, giving the Oilers momentum and a powerplay. Then Blake Comeau scored an unassisted shorthanded goal with 29 ticks left in the second period, and Colorado looked to be on their way.

In the end, J.T. Compher’s OT goal made a winner out of Jonathan Bernier, who has re-energized his career with Colorado No. 1 Semyon Varlamov on Injured Reserve. We last saw Bernier losing in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final for the Anaheim Ducks, who did not look to renew his services afterwards. He really struggled that night in Nashville.

“Honestly, I thought I played really well last year, minus my Game 6 in Nashville,” Bernier said. “Overall, when (John) Gibson got hurt … I thought I played really well. I kept going in that direction, and had a good summer.”

Did he ever doubt he could carry an NHL team the way he has in Denver of late?

“I never did,” the former Maple Leaf said. “I kept believing in myself. I know if you keep working hard, put the effort in, well, that’s the reward right now.”

The reward for Colorado is two points and at least a night as the second wildcard in the West. The reward for Edmonton, a point, and one less game between them and the links.

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