A phantom penalty late in the second period was the dagger in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ heart.
Trailing 3-0 in the second period, Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin skated behind the Maple Leafs defense and put the puck in the net but was whistled for a controversial goalie interference. The goal was nullified, the Maple Leafs scored on the ensuing power play, and the game was decided.
Penguins starting goalie Tristan Jarry lasted only two periods, but was not a culprit on any the Maple Leafs tallies. Casey DeSmith replaced Jarry at the start of the third period.
Midway through the first period, former Penguins prospect Kasperi Kapanen waved hello to his former team. Defensive indifference by Phil Kessel and Derrick Brassard allowed Kapanen to be alone in front of the net. Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak quickly slid the puck under Riley Sheahan‘s stick to Kapanen (4), who quickly finished the chance.
In the final minute of the first period, Nazem Kadri (25) deflected Morgan Reilly‘s point-shot for a two-goal lead.
Kadri struck again midway through the second period. After a soft interference call against Jamie Oleksiak who hit Patrick Marleau moments after Marleau played the puck, Kardi (26) buried a rebound from Mitch Marner.
The Maple Leafs scored a third power-play goal. Late in the second period, after Dumoulin was given a penalty for skating into the goaltender, Mitchel Marner’s shot hit Riley Sheahan‘s knees and bounced past Jarry. The goal made it 4-0 and was the death knell to the Penguins.
Dumoulin’s goal emphatically waved off by officials, was a questionable call, at best. Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn agreed it was a dubious call
2 mins for scoring. Huh? ????????
— Jamie Benn (@jamiebenn14) March 11, 2018
“I’d rather they wait to make the call, let us use our challenge,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
Mike Sullivan was blunter: “I don’t think anyone knows what is and what isn’t goalie interference.”
“I disagree with the call.” Sullivan added, “everything I watched and saw, it was a good goal.”
After going through the motions for most of the game and third period, the Penguins mounted a too-little-too-late challenge late in the third period.
Crosby (23) beat Maple Leafs goaltender Frederick Andersen with just over three minutes remaining, when a backhand shot hit a stick and ramped into the roof of the net.
Less than one minute later, Evgeni Malkin assisted on Patric Hornqvist‘s (19) deflection goal. The assist was Malkin’s 85th point. He trails Nikita Kucherov by three points for the NHL scoring lead.
Despite the comeback, the Penguins were short for most of the game.
“I don’t think we deserved to win anyway,” said Crosby.
Here is Mike Sullivan’s complete audio. He did not sugar coat the goalie interference call.
–The fourth line centered by Josh Jooris was better than expected. Carter Rowney was on the right wide with Tom Kunhackl on the left. Kuhnhackl has been playing very well. His feet have been moving which has allowed him to generate chances and puck possession.
–Penguins coaches elevated Sheahan to the third line left wing. Sheahan has not been successful in previous stints on Brassard’s left side. It didn’t work Saturday, either. This is one of several points on which the stats crowd will diverge from the “eyes” crowd. On paper, the Penguins line had more shots than their opponents, but the paper can’t judge quality. And there wasn’t much quality from that line.
–The Dumoulin penalty for goalie interference is easily one of the worst calls this season but was perhaps superseded by for the interference penalty on Oleksiak.
–The game was decided on referees’ whistles and on the penalty kill. Penguins PK without Bryan Rust was porous. The Maple Leafs confronted the puck at every opportunity.
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