The Calgary Flames took advantage of an Auston Matthews-less Toronto Maple Leafs squad on Monday, holding the East’s top team to 25 shots on goal and walking out with a 3-1 win that snapped a three-game losing streak.
But Flames coach Bill Peters wasn’t exactly satisfied with the officiating in the final minutes of the game.
There were two incidents Peters was unhappy about.
First, as the Flames held a 2-0 lead and were already killing a Matthew Tkachuk penalty, Mark Giordano got called for interference on John Tavares, giving the Leafs a two-man advantage. Battling in front of goalie Mike Smith, Giordano pushed Tavares, who slid into the net and dislodged it. The Leafs scored one second after Tkachuk’s penalty ended to cut the lead to one, but the Flames avoided still being down a man.
Then, with 1:28 left in regulation and the Flames up one, the Maple Leafs thought they had scored on a Zach Hyman tip. The crowd rose in celebration and the goal horn went off, but the puck sat on the back of the net and never went in.
Meantime, the Flames got the puck and, amongst the confusion, headed down the ice in the opposite direction with a 2-on-0 heading towards and empty net. It would have put the game away at 3-1, but the refs blew the play dead and dropped the puck at centre ice.
“They were getting hot there weren’t they?” Peters said after the game. “They had a lot of momentum going, the refs.
“It’ll be an interesting explanation tomorrow to our general manger from the league, then we’ll enlighten the rest of the world on what really happened.”
Per the NHL Rulebook, this is a play that can be blown dead if the puck remains on the back of the net for three seconds. Count yourself and judge if it was on that long (it was close), but the real sticking point for the Flames could be that the whistle didn’t come until after they were headed the other way with the puck:
85.2 Puck Unplayable – When the puck becomes lodged in the netting on the outside of either goal so as to make it unplayable, or if it is “frozen” between opposing players intentionally or otherwise, the Referee shall stop the play. The puck may be played off the goal netting by either team.
However, should the puck remain on the goal netting for more than three (3) seconds, play shall be stopped. Should the goalkeeper use his stick or glove to freeze the puck on the back of the net or should a defending player shield an attacking player from playing the puck off the back of the net, the face-off shall take place at one of the face-off spots in the defending zone. Should the puck go under the goal either from behind or the side, or through the mesh from behind or the side, if this is witnessed by an on-ice official, play should be stopped immediately and the ensuing face-off should take place at the nearest face-off spot in the zone nearest to the location where the play was stopped.
Peters also cited a near-icing in the final seconds with the Flames still holding a one-goal lead. The puck didn’t make it to the goal-line and so no icing was called — which would have given the Leafs a prime opportunity to tie the game again — but that didn’t stop Peters from mentioning it among the other two questionable calls.
“The only thing we were waiting for was the one that didn’t go over the red line at the end, the almost icing,” Peters said. “If they would have called that they would have been 3-for-3.
“I’m not sure about the 5-on-3 call. I’m not sure about the whistle and then if they would have called the icing that didn’t cross the red line that would have made a trifecta.”