With the Pens on a power play down 3-2 in the third period of Thursday’s game against Los Angeles, it looked like Brandon Sutter had tied the game.
He crashed the net hunting a loose puck in the crease while being cross-checked repeatedly in the back by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who pushed him into goalie Martin Jones as the puck crossed the goal line just before it was dislodged.
After a long review, the referee skated to center ice and began to speak.
“It was ruled that the puck did cross the goal line…” he began, as the crowd began roaring in celebration.
The crowd quieted at this unexpected hesitation.
“The goalie was interfered with, so it’s no goal.”
The 18,650 in attendance at CONSOL Energy Center went from elation to anger, shaking the building with boos in disagreement with the call (the NHL’s official explanation is below).
“I was pretty surprised,” said Sutter, who said he couldn’t avoid the contact with Jones because he was pushed into him by Doughty. “I just thought that the puck entered the crease; it was loose the whole time. I definitely got pushed in the net and the puck went off of me somehow. I don’t know how that’s not a goal.”
The Pens continued to battle for the tying goal, but ultimately didn’t get it, suffering their third straight loss. But the positive was that the work ethic was there after a flat, lifeless effort on Tuesday against Phoenix. They created plenty; just couldn’t get the bounces to go their way. So it’s certainly something to build off of Friday in Columbus.
“We competed hard tonight and I felt like that was something we all wanted to do coming off of last game,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “We compete like that and generate the chances we did we should get a better result.”
Here is the NHL’s official explanation of Sutter’s no-goal:
“At 9:41 of the the third period in the Los Angeles Kings/Pittsburgh Penguins game, the Situation Room initiated video review after the puck entered the Los Angeles net. The referee informed the Situation Room that after a huddle, the officials' group decision was that Pittsburgh's Brandon Sutter pushed Los Angeles goaltender Martin Jones' pad and the puck into the net, impeding Jones' ability to play his position. According to Rule 78.5 (ix) ‘Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee when a goaltender has been pushed into the net together with the puck after making a save.’ This is not a reviewable play therefore the referee's call on the ice stands - no penalty and no goal Pittsburgh.”
Basically, since the refs decided that Sutter had interfered with Jones on the play, there was no point in reviewing it since it wouldn’t count regardless.
That was definitely a tough break for the Pens, but the fact remains that the Pens had seven chances to score on the power play and they didn’t convert.
Overall, Pittsburgh has been losing the special teams battle far too often as of late. It’s been the same story for the past few games now: the power play hasn’t been coming through with big goals, and the penalty kill hasn’t been keeping them out of the net.
What made it hurt even more today was how big power plays are against a team like the Kings. They have the NHL’s top-ranked defense and play such a stingy, suffocating game, so any time you can get two minutes with the extra man, it’s a big advantage. The Pens had plenty of chances to capitalize, but ended up going 0-for-5 in the game.
Pittsburgh’s penalty kill also continued its slump. While the Kings were technically awarded with just one power-play goal, they scored their second of the game right as a penalty to Matt Niskanen expired. LA finished 1-for-3 with the man-advantage.
“Both penalty killing and power play have won us a lot of games this year,” Niskanen said. “There’s been numerous times this year where we have no business being in a game and the power play gets a couple goals and we find a way to win, but right now it’s not happening for us. We’re in a rough patch.
“We’re doing the right things (on the power play). Tonight we shot a lot of pucks, had people around the net with the one disallowed goal. We’ll keep trying to do those right things and with the players we have we’ll get some goals.
“Penalty kill, same thing. Guys are in the right spots. We took fewer penalties tonight, which helped. They get one power play, they score on it, and another one right as it’s ending. We’ll try to stay out of the box and we’ll try to improve the penalty kill. We’re in a rough patch. Just try to get better.”
You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. Put the puck on net, and good things will happen.
That couldn’t have been truer for Pyatt on Thursday night, as he scored an incredibly fluky goal to even the score at 2-2 late in the second period.
He picked up the puck off the boards with speed, carried in 1-on-1 against Doughty and took a shot. Jones saw it all the way, but it bounced weirdly off his shoulder, spun high into the air and trickled into the net before he could react.
Pyatt now has goals in two straight games. He followed up his big game on Tuesday with another tremendous performance on Thursday, using his size to his advantage to work the corners and the dirty areas around the net.
“Pyatt’s had a couple big games in a row here and he’s got a couple of good goals,” Sutter said.
GOC LEAVES GAME
Add center Marcel Goc to Pittsburgh’s too-long injury list.
With 51.7 seconds left in the second period, Goc and Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell were racing for a puck behind LA’s net. Mitchell knocked Goc off his skates with a hit and the Penguins center flew feet-first into the boards.
Goc was able to stand but couldn’t put any weight on his left leg. He had to be helped off the ice by Robert Bortuzzo and head athletic trainer Chris Stewart and did not return to the game.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said after the game that as of now, he has no further update on Goc other than that it’s a lower-body injury.
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