NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-20-14 Lightning at Canadiens

Hard to win when you're playing 5 on 7.

TB-2
MTL-3

Montreal Leads the Series 3-0

Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the loss. He allowed the opening goal of the game to go through him, but was outstanding after that, especially in the First Period when he pretty well stood on his head to keep the Lightning in the game.

First Period
0:11 MTL Bourque (3), (Subban)

Second Period
8:39 TB Palat (1), (Stamkos, Hedman)(PP)
18:10 MTL Gallagher (2), (Subban, Eller)

Third Period
5:43 MTL Plekanec (2), (Prust, Gallagher)
11:36 TB Carle (1), (Stamkos, Gudas)

Wow. I think the officials and the league have a lot to answer for after that travesty, and I'm not just talking about the no-goal call in the Second Period that turned the game's momentum completely over. That, in of itself, was a miscarriage of justice as Alex Killorn made a strong hockey play going to the net, spilled into the cage, and as he was exiting the cage Price deliberately contacted him, play acted a little, and then allowed a goal several moments later which was waved off. That, in of itself, was outrageous, and begs the question I've asked several times on plays like that this season. If you're Jon Cooper, what do you instruct your young player to do differently on that play? Nothing. He did exactly what he's supposed to do and made a strong hockey play and got punished by the official for doing so (and we'll get to that official later).

But, then I look at several missed calls including a blatant hold of Callahan by Emelin in the Third Period and a missed high stick that Tyler Johnson took in the mush in the First Period. I mean, OBVIOUS calls that were on-the-puck infractions in plain view. You juxtapose that against the ticky tack holding calls that went against Gudas and Sustr that helped give the Canadiens a 2:1 advantage in power plays in a game where the shots on goal were nearly dead even. And, then, you throw in a blown offsides call that denied Steven Stamkos a breakaway, to boot? I'm not even going to mention the 4-minute minor Barberio took because, golly, you're not allowed to clean someone out in front of your net anymore.

Basically, the officials just handed the Montreal Canadiens the series on a silver platter tonight. It's bad enough that all you have to do is blow on a Habs player to get a call versus Lightning players getting full on tackled without an arm going up, but they went straight past that to taking goals off the board and directly influencing the outcome of a game tonight. It was to the extent that even CBC, TSN, and any other fair-minded hockey fan in the world was admitting that the Lightning got the shaft.

One other thing: evidently the goal was waved off by referee Francis Charron. Referee Francis Charron who was born in Gatineau, Quebec. Referee Francis Charron who, I'm willing to bet, has a dusty old photo album sitting somewhere in his mama's attic with him as a little boy wearing a Habs jersey. Betcha. Dollars to donuts. When you look at everything that happened in this game, and then you factor that into the equation as well, I'm sorry. The whole thing stinks to the high heavens, and if the league didn't want the appearance of impropriety they should not have assigned Charron to officiate this game. Period, point blank. Take an Ethics 101 class if you don't understand why.

So I could sit here and break down this game further and tell you how the Lightning, from the Second Period on in this game, started to play their best hockey in the series and looked like they were about to turn the corner. We could talk about how the Lightning started to assert themselves more physically and how, tactically, they looked better moving the puck through the neutral zone with some more speed. But, honestly, what does it matter? I don't care if you've got a top line of Lemieux, Gretzky, and Howe in their primes with Orr and Ray Bourque on the blueline, no amount of athleticism and skill is going to win games where you're playing 5 on 7, and no tactic is going to give you an edge when you're playing 5 on 7.

I'm so sick of this league. You know, you KNOW going into games against certain teams (Montreal, Toronto, and Pittsburgh, foremost) that you're going to face biased officiating. You KNOW it. And then you look at your greedy Commissioner whose presided over a lost season and two other lockouts (or was it three?) in the time since he's taken over. Good to know none of the money the league extorted from the players went toward acquiring any integrity. Yes, integrity, and the worst part of all is seeing everyone, EVERYONE, who isn't a Habs homer admitting that the Lightning took the shaft... except Kerry Fraser who promptly hopped on the Twitter to circle the wagons around his "fraternity" boy Charron. In the NFL, they admit after the game when they blow the call. In the NHL, they never admit fault, even though it's so obvious that even Ray Charles (blind AND dead) could see it. Nope. Let's circle the wagons around our boys. Joke. Joke league. I love the Lightning and I'm proud they kept fighting once they got down 3-1 in the face of the injustice going on all around them, but this league should be ashamed of itself, and I hope Jon Cooper, Steve Yzerman, and anyone else on the Lightning who gets a voice recorder shoved in front of them tonight makes an eloquently worded, massive donation to charity to that effect after what just happened. Clown league. The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs is the purest, best form of competition in all of sport and these clowns have found a way to even tarnish that. Shame.

"Go Refs Go!"

Cedric Paquette had 2 hits and was 67% on draws in 9:39. Made a really strong backcheck to nullify a 2-on-1 at a key juncture in the game. Surprised they didn't call him for being within a foot of the Habs player's "personal space".

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.