DENVER — Colorado coach Jared Bednar was not happy with a controversial penalty call in Game 5, of the Stanley Cup Final, on Friday. This decision helped decide the fate of the Avalanche in a 3 defeat to Tampa Bay.
The series was 3-1 in Bednar’s favor, with Game 5 being a home game for the chance to lift the Cup. A tripping penalty against Cale Makar during the second period led to a 4-on-3 power play goal by Tampa Bay forward Nikita Kuchrov.
This was the difference in Friday’s outcome. Bednar didn’t like it.
Bednar stated that he didn’t like the call because he didn’t believe there was an intent. “I don’t think he was even checking that guy [ Ondrej Palat]. It looked to me as if he had tripped on his stick. It’s a difficult one. That was their only power play goal. That hurt, it stung a bit. It is what it is. You have to be flexible with the situation.
Makar attempted to avoid questions about the penalty by saying he hadn’t seen a replay yet, and focusing on Colorado’s ongoing goal of ending the series.
Makar stated, “I’m here not to talk about refs.” We have to fight through that. It’s playoffs. There will be discrepancies between games with different people. It’s what it is. It is impossible to let your emotions get in the way of that. I find that the “tripping penalty” doesn’t occur very often, but it is something you need to remember at the end.
The sides were already playing 4-on-4 when it happened. This was due to minor penalties to Alex Killorn (holding), and a late onsetting call against J.T. Compher (holding on to the stick). Colorado’s penalty kill was already 2-for-2, but it couldn’t keep up with Kucherov who unloaded a shot at Darcy Kuemper.
Kucherov’s 2-1 Lightning win brought the Avalanche within a game of a 1-0 lead. The momentum shift was kept in perspective by Colorado despite the Tampa Bay man advantage.
“That’s unfortunate,” Devon Toews stated about the call. I don’t know if it’s justified or not. That one didn’t go our way. We didn’t get enough pucks through their goalie’s net. It’s a crucial point in the game. But I don’t know why we lost.
Friday’s Cup Final was the second consecutive game where officiating was in the spotlight. After Tampa Bay’s 4-3 overtime loss to Tampa Bay in Game 4, Jon Cooper, Lightning coach, left his news conference and said he didn’t believe Nazem Kadri’s game-winning goal should be counted. It was later discovered that the reason for the sudden departure of Jon Cooper from his news conference following Tampa Bay’s 4-3 overtime loss to Tampa Bay was a perceived miss call by too many Avalanche players.
Colorado was penalized for having too many men in Game 5, while trailing 3-2. This prevented them from pulling Kuemper until it was less than one minute. Kuemper’s overall performance in a 26 save performance was deemed “okay” by Bednar, and the 4-on-3 marker remained large for the netminder.
Kuemper stated, “You know what? I liked our game.” They won the 4-on-3 call and scored. This was the difference.
After an emotionally difficult Game 4, Tampa Bay showed it can turn the page quickly. As the series moves back to Tampa on Sunday, Colorado must do the same.
Captain Gabriel Landeskog stated, “I’m certainly not getting into [the officiating]”. It’s something they (the Lightning) can continue to do, we’re not doing it. We are focusing on our game. Tomorrow we will watch video to make sure that we are fine-tuning our game before moving on to the next game.