By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — With 9:24 remaining in regulation of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, David Perron scored a goal for the St. Louis Blues. It was a massive goal for the visitors, staking the Blues to a 2-0 lead with the chance to seize a 3-2 series lead.
Yet, if you were following the NHL’s various social media channels, you would’ve never seen the goal. That likely was no accident.
Just about 10 seconds prior to Perron scoring on a second-chance opportunity, Blues forward Tyler Bozak upended Noel Acciari, catching the Bruins winger’s knee with his own knee. Acciari flipped head over heels, landing hard on his head, directly in front of a referee.
All 17,000-plus people in the Garden — including Bozak himself — was waiting for the arm of referee Kelly Sutherland to rise to the air to signal a penalty. Yet, as Acciari remained down on the ice, play continued, with Perron trying to send a cross-ice pass to Bozak. Torey Krug broke up that pass but the puck ended up right back on Perron’s stick. The veteran forward sent a shot through Tuukka Rask’s five-hole to score the goal.
Considering that goal would prove to be the game-winner, the NHL eventually had to share the goal on social media. When the league did … a certain element of the play was missing:
Eventually, after the game ended, the NHL relented and shared the full clip on YouTube. It’s fair to surmise the powers that be might have been hoping that the goal didn’t end up deciding a game at this time of year.
From the Bruins perspective, after losing 2-1, the team was not shy about voicing displeasure on the missed call.
Here’s the exchange Acciari had with reporters:
Q: What was your reaction to the non-call?
Acciari: Hey, you know, it’s a missed call I think, and it has a big outcome in the game, and they scored a goal off of it, and that ends up being the game-winner. Just kind of embarrassing.
Q: Did the ref say anything to you to explain it?
Acciari: No. No explanation.
Q: How tough is a loss like that, especially when it happens like that?
Acciari: You know, it’s behind us now. I mean, it’s tough. A tough pill to swallow. But we’re on to Game 6 and it’s must-win from here on out.
Q: Was it really hard to believe that he didn’t make that call?
A: It’s a missed call. Biggest stage of hockey right now, and, yeah. I don’t know what else I can say about it.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy sat at the podium and praised the work of the officials between Games 3 and 4. That was in response to Blues head coach Craig Berube’s complaints about some penalty calls in Game 3.
“I sat here two games ago and I said I believe these officials are at this level because they’ve earned the right to be here, and we should be getting the best, but, I mean, the narrative changed after Game 3,” Cassidy said. “There was a complaint or whatever put forth by the opposition, and it just seems to have changed everything.
“I mean, the non-call on Acciari, their player is on the way to the [penalty] box,” Cassidy said. “It’s right in front of the official. It’s a slew-foot. Our guy’s gone; the spotter took him out of the game for a possible concussion. I mean, it was blatant. It had a big effect on the game.”
Cassidy went on to say that the officiating this postseason has become a “black eye” for the league.
“This has happened — I mean, I’m a fan of the game — the National Hockey League’s getting a black eye with their officiating this playoffs. And here’s another one that’s going to be talked about,” Cassidy said. “That call, probably … I mean, there’s time, but it really made it difficult for us to get the win tonight. So I’m disappointed.”
Cassidy concluded: “I guess to answer your initial question, it was egregious.”
Later, Cassidy was asked what was said on the bench after the play took place.
“What was being said was, ‘You missed an effing call,’ was what was being said on the bench, for obvious reasons,” Cassidy shared. “But after that, we had to settle down and play. … I think, listen, we thought we got screwed, and you gotta keep playing. And we did. We scored the next goal, gave ourselves a chance to win, so we tried to rally around that.”
Krug and Rask — key players in the sequence — shared their view of what took place.
“That’s a penalty every time — there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it,” Krug said. “I’m all for letting us play, but when it leads to scoring chances and the opposing team ends up with the puck, it should be going our way. It should be a penalty. They missed one there, I think.”
Krug later added: “Yeah, it should have been a penalty for sure. Any time it leads to a scoring chance for the opposition, it’s gotta be blown down and it’s gotta be called. I’m all for letting plays go and playing hard, but even the one at the end of the second there, they get a scoring chance out of it because the guy [Oskar Sundqvist] is holding my arm. So it is what it is. We’ve got to accept it and move on.”
“Well it looked like a trip to everybody I guess, based on the fan’s reaction,” Rask said. “Yeah, I think everybody was kind of expecting the whistle, but then you just play. You play to the whistle, right? Torey made a heck of a play on that 2-on-1 and then it goes right back to his stick and it’s in the net. So just one of those that you hope for that whistle, but just keep playing.”
Patrice Bergeron was a bit more mild with his thoughts.
“I think we all have the same opinion about it,” Bergeron said. “I don’t need to expand more except it is what it is, you know.”
When asked if the officiating in the series has changed since Berube’s comments, Bergeron said, “I hope not. I hope not, because that shouldn’t change anything.”
Krug was asked that same question but answered a bit more definitively.
“Yes,” Krug said, before repeating. “Yes.”
The commentary from the Bruins was clear and direct. Stephen Walkom, the NHL’s head of officiating, only offered the following response to a pool reporter: “We don’t make comments on judgment calls within games. There are hundreds of judgment calls in every game. The official on the play, he viewed it and he didn’t view it as a penalty at the time.”
That will, likely serve as the final word on the call, which wasn’t the first missed call in hockey history and won’t be the last. (The Blues, who lost a game in the conference finals on an obvious missed call, certainly won’t have any sympathy.) The Bruins all noted that they need to get over it, and they will have their chance to do so Sunday night in Game 6.