TAMPA, Fla. — It’s a basic rule in hockey. Unless you pull your goalie, a team can only have five skaters on the ice at one time. But when the Colorado Avalanche scored the game-winner, a closer look showed they had six.
No one seemed to notice, but after the game Lightning head coach Jon Cooper clued everyone in. He was so frustrated that he only answered one question in the post-game game press conference.
“It's gonna hard for me to speak. I’ll speak with you tomorrow. You are going to see what I mean when you see the winning goal," Cooper said Wednesday night.
Even the initial stat sheet handed out shows six Colorado players on the ice when the goal went in. But on the NHL website, the boxscore shows just five.
The NHL released a statement saying a too many men on the ice penalty is a judgment call, and that none of the four referees saw the extra player.
The rules say those calls are not reviewable by instant replay, even in the Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s impossible to say what’s the right decision there and it’s so fast. It probably happens a million more times a game more than we think," said defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
Thursday, Cooper apologized for his early exit.
“It’s the way the game is and you can’t pout about it.”
Cooper didn’t want to spend much more time talking about the controversial goal. Instead, he said the team is ready to get on that plane and win the next game.
“You turn the page, move on. Let’s go. So that mountain is a little bit higher. We are still climbing. We are not out," said Cooper.
“We haven’t lost yet. It’s the first one to get to four wins right now. We got a little challenge in front of us. But if it’s one team that can do it, it’s this team," said left-wing Pat Maroon.
The goal all along has been a Stanley Cup three-peat. But that mountain to climb now will force the Bolts to do something almost no one in the sports world believes they can do, win three straight games against the Avalanche.