Frustrating Flames loss shows league still inconsistent on interference

Tyler Seguin scored 24 seconds into OT as the Dallas Stars outlasted the Calgary Flames 4-3.

CALGARY — Still fuming over the controversial goal that ended his night in overtime, David Rittich suggested his strategy moving forward should be different.

“Maybe next time I will lay down for a half an hour,” spat the Calgary Flames netminder following a 4-3 loss to Dallas. “If they make this rule they have to get some (consistency). I don’t know, it’s the second year in the show with this rule, but it’s not consistent.”

A mere 24 seconds into a scrambly overtime Wednesday night, Jamie Benn cut behind a sprawling Rittich and through the crease to retrieve the puck, catching his foot on the goalie’s right skate.

It caused Rittich to continue sliding backwards, delaying his ability to get back to the top of the paint and get square to Tyler Seguin, who was standing all alone in the slot with the puck.

Seguin’s shot beat Rittich glove-side, prompting the 26-year-old Czech netminder to immediately plead his case with officials. Clearly a review was needed.

After a few minutes in which the crowd grew optimistic play would continue by virtue of the clear contact, the official took to centre ice to announce the game was indeed over.

The official ruling from Toronto: Rittich had time to recover.

Rittich immediately smashed his stick in two, threw the handle towards centre ice and raced out to the referees with choice words he may or may not have repeated in a deadly silent locker room.

“He hit me, so I was a little bit set but not 100 per cent ready for anything,” he said. “Everyone saw it. I had a little bit of time, but not the full recovery of the shot.”

Indeed, a full-on dose of fakery might have gone a long way on that one. Shame on ol’ Ritter for giving it the ol’ college try. That’s clearly the lesson here.

Yard sales, à la Billy Smith or Dominik Hasek, are clearly in order.

“The ruling from Toronto is he had time to get reset,” said coach Bill Peters, who was then asked if he agreed with the call. “Well, any time you go to review it’s a little scary. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out. It could have gone either way. It’s obvious contact, but they said he recovered and had the ability to make the save.

“That’s one you can discuss all night.”

Don’t worry — Flames fans were way ahead of you. Let the ol’ goalie interference debate begin again.

Fact is, it’s a tired, frustrating issue the league has yet to iron out, and likely won’t ever be able to set straight in a game as fast and physical as it is.

Absolutely the call could have gone either way. But act the fool and slide around on the ice like a Grey Cup running back and the picture becomes clearer.

Alas, the Flames didn’t deserve the win anyway — a point Peters was quick to point out.

“I think we were fortunate to get a point out of the game tonight,” said Peters, who re-arranged all his lines in the third period to somehow turn a 2-1 second-period deficit into a brief 3-2 lead. “I didn’t think we were very good.”

When asked about his top tandem — Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan — Peters smiled.

“There’s probably a reason you are asking that question,” said Peters.

“If I look down at that (scoring) sheet they’re probably minus players (yes, both minus-3). They got scored on the first shift and scored on in overtime on a play we’ll say is controversial. We needed more out of lots of guys.”

Gaudreau’s line missed a check 41 seconds in and saw Jason Spezza strike early in a game the hosts didn’t tie up until late in the frame, when Garnet Hathaway slipped one through Anton Khudobin’s pads.

All six players on the ice for the Flames were Stockton Heat grads — an encouraging sign not lost on most fans.

Three fruitless Flames power plays in the first would come back to bite them. The lone goal in the second was Benn’s 10th, setting up an interesting third.

A dandy power-play goal by Gaudreau and a point snipe by Mark Giordano 70 seconds apart midway through the third appeared to have the Flames in line for their seventh third-period comeback win of the year.

Alas, a goal by Gavin Bayreuther that bounced in off a shin pad with seven minutes left set the stage for the controversy in extra time.

Was Seguin concerned the goal would be disallowed?

“When I shot that, no,” he said of his eighth. “When I looked at the replay, no not really. The goalie got square so I didn’t think that there was any goalie interference with that.”

Added Benn: “I saw it in the back of the net — that’s all that matters.”


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