ST. PAUL, Minn — The Pittsburgh Penguins lost 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild. In large part, the loss was by their own hand with lethargic play and a few defensive mistakes in the first two periods. However, the game-winner was one the Penguins don’t believe should have counted, and captain Sidney Crosby was uncharacteristically blunt in his assessment of the process.
With 10:26 remaining in the game, Minnesota forward Karill Karpizov appeared to break a 2-2 tie with a rebound goal. However, nearly all of the Penguins players on the ice, including goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, raised their hands to signal to referees that the puck hit the netting above the glass behind the Penguins’ net.
Referees didn’t see it. Replays were inconclusive, or at least inconclusive to those who made the call. The net could be seen moving, but was it the puck or players hitting the boards?
“You know, every player on the ice saw it, even their players,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “So, (referees) thought it was inconclusive. We felt like there was an angle that showed the puck clearly change direction. And every player on the rink saw it.”
For over seven minutes, referees attempted to see what everyone else knew. They could not.
The goal stood. Minnesota won at the Xcel Energy Center on Marc-Andre Fleury tribute night. But that doesn’t mean the Penguins were entirely happy for their long-time teammate.
Not even Crosby could hide his disgust of being on the wrong side of what they felt was an obvious call.
“Yeah, (I saw it hit the net). I mean, most of the guys on the ice felt like it hit the net. It sucks being on the wrong side of some of these challenges,” Crosby said. “Why do the replay if you’re not going to get it right? Yeah, I know some things are tough, but if you’re going to have the rule that you can review one into the net, then get a view that shows it instead of being inconclusive.
“I know they’re not going to get every single one right, but don’t have a review if you’re not going to at least have decent angles to get it.”
Crosby did have some praise for Fleury, his long-time teammate, but thought the sting of the loss under dubious circumstances was obvious.
“He made some big saves. Obviously, we pushed pretty hard there late,” said Crosby. “You always know that he’s going to compete and battle, but you still ultimately want to get the two points. Obviously, it was a really nice ceremony before the game I thought (Minnesota) did a great job.”
Perhaps the hockey gods also gave a little nod to Fleury and his penchant for practical jokes. Twice in the first period, the horn mysteriously sounded, stopping play, but no explanations could be given, not even to the Penguins coach.
“No, they don’t know who caused it or what happened,” said Sullivan.
Unlike his teammate, Nedeljkovic was at a loss for words on the call. He shook his head as he tried to explain how officials got it wrong. The Penguins’ goalie stopped 27 of 30 shots, though shot No. 28 was the one the Penguins believe should not have been.
“I thought I saw it hit the net coming across. It’s a tough play, the puck kind of deflected up, I don’t know,” Nedeljkovic said, perhaps trying to be kind. “I thought I saw it. Again, it’s a tough angle to pick up on camera. I saw the netting move … whether it was the guys hitting the boards? That’s what I saw. It is what it is.”