Explaining the call: the game-winner that wasn’t
It was a tense moment: the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings were tied 1-1 with 1:53 left in regulation of Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. After a scrum in front of the Red Wings bench, the Blackhawks controlled the puck and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson fired a slap shot past Jimmy Howard for what looked to be the game winning goal.
But cheers turned to boos in Chicago when referees disallowed the potential game-winner. Brandon Saad of the Blackhawks and Kyle Quincey of the Red Wings were pegged with coincidental roughing penalties which stopped the play once the referee’s whistle was blown. The equal punishment for both parties in itself was confusing — Saad appeared to do nothing egregious after he was shoved into the Red Wings bench and then tackled to the ice. If Quincey had been the only player penalized, Hjalmarsson’s goal would have counted since the Blackhawks maintained possession of the puck.
The head referee and the linesman were unaware of the commotion in front of Detriot’s bench. It was the back referee that came from the Blackhawks end of the ice to make the call. Since he had a fair amount of ice to cover, the play developed in the Red Wings zone before he could call the penalties.
Players on the ice were incensed. The goal scorer, Hjalmersson, almost broke his stick against the boards in anger but restrained himself. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews spent the duration of the replay voicing his disagreeing opinion to the back referee that made the call. The United Center crowd rained down a chorus of boos and chants of “bulls–t” once the PA announcer declared the goal was waived off.
Some NHL players watching at home took to twitter to add their two cents, and plenty shared in the Blackhawks’ disbelief:
Wow. What a call.
— Nick Bonino (@NickBonino) May 30, 2013
Woooooww — Ryan Kesler (@Ryan_Kesler) May 30, 2013
A couple players were on the fence:
Not quite sure how i feel about that call — James van Riemsdyk (@JVReemer21) May 30, 2013
Wow, tough call. — Justin Schultz (@6Schultz6) May 30, 2013
A few of the players took the fans’ side:
That one hurts. Those are two very good refs too. — Bobby Ryan (@b_ryan9) May 30, 2013
Crazy bad call by one of the top 3 best refs in the game.
— Ryan Whitney (@ryanwhitney6) May 30, 2013
Wow! That’s is a terrible call! Terrible! What if Chicago doesn’t win now? What do you think?
— Evander Kane (@EKane9JETS) May 30, 2013
At least Ryan Kesler of the Canucks and Tyler Bozak of the Maple Leafs had a sense of humor about the situation:
What’s everyone talking about??? I jus got a great deal on my car insurance
— Ryan Kesler (@Ryan_Kesler) May 30, 2013
Buffalo Wild Wings at it again!!!
— Tyler Bozak (@Bozie42) May 30, 2013
(If you don’t get Bozak’s tweet, it’s a reference to these commercials)
But Chicago eventually did get its happy ending. Brent Seabrook of the Blackhawks was the hero of the night, netting the game-winning goal (and series clincher) 3:35 into the overtime period and undoing the potential what-ifs associated with the no-goal call.