The Montreal Canadiens suffered their third straight loss Tuesday night, and the second consecutive 'L' at the hands of the less-than-stellar Ottawa Senators. But given what occurred in the final moments of their latest effort, Montreal might see Toronto more deserving of blame than Ottawa.
In the final seconds of a 4-4 tie between Montreal and Ottawa on Tuesday, the sliding Canadiens seemed to break through, with winger Brendan Gallagher deflecting home the potential game-winner as only a few seconds remained on the clock. A few minutes later, though, the score was back to level, a review of the play by the NHL's video review headquarters in Toronto resulting in the goal being called back due to goalie interference.
Gallagher was understandably frustrated with the turn of events post-game, with the sequence that played out in the Senators' crease leaving much to be debated.
A look back at the play shows Gallagher enter the right side of Matt Murray's crease, jostling and arguably pushed in by Ottawa's Nikita Zaitsev — the battle results in Gallagher tumbling to the ice in front of Murray, bumping the netminder and prompting the latter to spin around to right himself.
Murray appears to have reset by the time the clock's ticked down to roughly 4.5 seconds remaining. With around 3.1 seconds remaining, Gallagher tips a point shot past him and into the cage.
Given past plays that have run a similar course and been deemed good goals by video review, Gallagher found himself at a loss when discussing the result post-game.
“I’m still searching for an explanation that makes sense. We sit down at the start of every season and the NHL prepares a video for us. The referees see the exact same video," the winger said Tuesday night, according to Sportsnet's Eric Engels. "We’ve seen clips — there was a clip last year, a New York Islander player bumped (Frederik) Andersen in Toronto, Andersen had time to reset, puck went in, goal counted. On this play I’m knocked on my ass, I have time to reset, you can’t tell me the goalie doesn’t have time to reset."
The issue from the officials' perspective, it seems, is where Gallagher found himself when he stood up and tipped in the potential game-winner.
"The only explanation I got: Okay, I’m in the blue plaint," he said. "(But) I’m working my way out of the blue paint. We’ve seen that same video, plenty of examples where the player’s working his way out, he’s pushed into the goalie, the goal counted. We watched this video, the refs watched this video.
"For some reason this example is different. I don’t know why. To me it’s ruining the product, I don’t know, the inconsistency.”
The Senators, of course, wound up taking the game in the shootout after the clubs played to a stalemate following a stretch of 3-on-3 overtime, Montreal going 0-2 against Murray while Tim Stützle and Josh Norris scored on Carey Price.
With the loss, the Canadiens sit at 9-5-4 on the season, ranked fourth in the North Division with only a handful of points separating them (22) from the Calgary Flames (19) and Vancouver Canucks (18).
They'll get their next shot at extending that gap, and potentially moving one spot higher in the rankings, when they take on the third-place Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.