Thursday, October 18, 2007

10/17/07: Game 5: Penguins 4 - Devils 5

I'm not one to put on blame officiating for a game outcome. Sure, calls go one way and then the other, and sometimes more one way, but I don't feel it has as significant an impact on the a game as an irate fan might believe. Well, either I'm an irate fan or last night's game against the Devils was an exception. I have never seen a game so influenced by the calls of the referee.

It was an exciting game, something you certainly couldn't say about a meeting with the Devils in the past. Under Brent Sutter the Devils have transformed the style of play from a shutdown defensive unit into a much more offensive squad.

The Devils were on the board early thanks to Pandolfo and Madden tallies. But the Penguins bounced back as the first period was ending, scoring two goals less than 2 minutes apart. The first belonged to Maxime Talbot and the other was a powerplay goal by Gary Roberts.

The 2nd period is where everything broke loose. Less than a minute in Sergei Gonchar beat Broduer on the Powerplay with a slapshot from the blueline. In the course of 5 minutes, the Penguins picked up 8 penalty minutes. Devils Travis Zajac picked up the tying powerplay goal, tipping a Paraise shot past

Later in the period a Brooks Orpik breakout pass from inside the Penguins defensive zone found Jordan Staal and Malkin alone on the Devils Martin Brodeur. Staal feed Malkin, who lifted it over a sprawling Brodeur. However, after the goal was scored the referees gathered, decided the Penguins had too many players on the ice, and amazingly took the goal off the board. I have never seen anything like it, and as far as my understanding of the rulebook goes, I do not believe the officials can retrospectively make a penalty call and cancel out a goal. After reviewing the video, it was obvious that because of a tussle down by the benches, both teams had too many players on the ice. Needless to say, at this point the Penguins Mellon Arena was in an uproar. But the worst was yet to come.

A few minutes later during a loose puck in the crease, the Devils Brian Gionta crashed into Marc-Andre Fleury and was still on top of him as Zajac threw the puck into the net, giving the Devils the 4-3 lead. An incensed Fleury threw the goal off the moorings as the entire Penguins team pleaded with the officials for a goaltender interference call. But the goal stood.

The Pens would tie it up thanks to a goal by Evgeni Malkin in last few minutes of the 2nd. But the Devils regained the lead with an Arron Asham goal in the 3rd. And that was the last of the game, as the Devils pulled out the 5-4 victory.

The most upsetting part of the officiating was not one particular call, because with some leniency I could see each call going one way or the other. But when it seems as if so many questionable calls are going against you, especially on scoring calls, you begin to feel the game getting out of reach.

The Penguins play again on Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes, who beat the Pens 4-1 earlier in the month.

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