No matter the sport, controversial calls have a way of evening out. The San Jose Sharks are a recent example of that reality.
They were hurt Sunday by a controversial non-call that led to a Colorado goal that gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead. Colorado went on to win 4-3 to knot the series at one game apiece.
You may recall that the Sharks were the beneficiaries of a controversial call during in Game 7 of their first-round series with the Vegas Golden Knights. In that game, the Knights’ Cody Eakin was given a five-minute major penalty with about 11 minutes left in the game due to a cross-check on San Jose’s Joe Pavelski. The Knights argued the five-minute punishment was excessive for a cross-check.
The Sharks, who were trailing 3-0 at the time, went on to score four goals on the power play to win in overtime and advance.
Afterward, Knights’ owner Bill Foley said an NHL league official called him to apologize for the call.
Which brings us to the controversial non-call in Game 2 of the second round that went against the Sharks. In the second period, San Jose thought icing should have been called on a play where the puck was cleared to the defensive end.
The Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen chased it down in an effort to avoid the icing penalty and the refs ruled that he did. Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic got to it at close to the same time, thinking it was icing.
You be the judge:
The Sharks’ defense, thinking that icing should have been whistled, may have momentarily let up. No call came, and Rantanen flicked the puck to Gabriel Landeskog in front of the goal. Landeskog took a shot, which Sharks goalie Martin Jones stopped, but the puck bounced out to Tyson Barrie, who blasted one past Jones for a goal. It gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead en route to a 4-3 win.
“Whether or not I thought it was (icing) doesn’t matter,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said, reported ESPN. “Our players did. They let up. They relaxed for a minute, and it obviously wasn’t. So, the lesson in that was don’t assume anything in the playoffs. Play and make sure.”
Vlasic took the high road, with tongue-in-cheek. “I’ll take the high road and wait for the league’s apology tomorrow,” Vlasic said. He reiterated that sentiment moments later after reporters brought it up again.
“I’m taking the high road. Waiting for the apology tomorrow,” Vlasic said. He’s obviously referencing the apology that a league executive reportedly made to the Knights owner after game 7.
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Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was more philosophical about it.
“It was the exact same as the icing here the other night, when [Erik] Karlsson had the inside track on [J.T.] Compher,” Bednar said, reported ESPN. “They’re in a race. They blow it down for icing because Karlsson had the inside path. To me, on this one, I’m watching Mikko [Rantanen] go up the ice, he’s got a head of steam, he’s getting to the right area, he’s got the inside path on Vlasic on the post. It looks to me like Mikko’s going to get their first, so they let it go.
“To me, it’s similar plays: The guy on the inside got the call. One was against us. One was in our favor.”
Like he said, things have a way of evening out. The series itself is now tied at 1-1. Game 3 is Tuesday in Colorado.
The bottom line is, in this game, as well as in Game 7 against the Knights, there was plenty of time left to win. In the playoffs, as DeBoer said, you need to play through these ups and downs to survive and advance.
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