Should Nazem Kadri’s game-winning goal for the Avalanche in overtime to win Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final even have counted?
With eight minutes left in the first overtime period of the game, Kadri took a pass from Artturi Lehkonen through the Lightning defense and put the puck behind goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. After some brief confusion, the shot was ruled a goal, giving Colorado a 3-1 lead in the series as it moves back to home ice for Game 5.
But after the game, many online pointed out that the goal may not have been legal. The Avalanche were in the middle of a change when Kadri took the winning shot, and screengrabs from the scene showed Nathan MacKinnon may not have gotten off in time – and there were probably too many men on the ice.
It was not lost on those involved, particularly Lightning coach John Cooper, who was “nearly in tears” during the postgame press conference, according to The Athletic. Cooper only took one question and said he would be available tomorrow.
“You’re going to see what I mean when you see the winning goal,” Cooper said. “My heart breaks for the players, because we probably still should be playing.”
In the moment, Cooper did not clarify why the goal should not have counted, but the chatter quickly spread about the possible extra man on the ice.
Even the official score sheet given to the media at the game noted there were six Colorado skaters on the ice when the goal was scored (including the goalie). NHL curiously then edited the sheet to lower that number to five, according to ESPN.com.
“A too many men on the ice penalty is a judgment call that can be made by any of the four on-ice officials,” NHL Hockey Operations said in a statement. “Following the game, Hockey Operations met with the four officials as is their normal protocol. In discussing the winning goal, each of the four officials advised that they did not see too many men on the ice situation on the play. ”
It appears Cooper and the Lightning have a strong case – though it’s all for naught at this point, with their season now officially on the brink. To be fair, the Lightning beat the Islanders on a similar play in last year’s playoffs, en route to a Stanley Cup championship.