Sidney Crosby has scored 389 goals in his 10-year NHL career. None more unique than the tying goal during the second period of NBC’s Black Friday contest featuring the two-time defending Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.
It was a goal that shouldn’t have counted.
The goal in question came at the 17:44 mark of the second period. With a sprawling Anton Khudobin trying to freeze the puck, Crosby was there on the doorstep hoping to notch Goal No. 7 of the season. The puck wound up crossing the goal-line but it appeared the play had been blown dead before the red goal lights flickered on.
After review, the officials deemed it differently and gave the Penguins the 3-3 equalizer. But that wasn’t the only thing they had to review as Bruce Cassidy used his coach’s challenge for goaltender interference.
Once again to the replay booth where more looks confirmed that Crosby whacked Khudobin in the head while trying to bat home the equalizer. The officials, however, deemed it wasn’t enough to warrant the goal being taken away.
“I heard the whistle and they started celebrating,” Khudobin said about the events. “But the referees probably saw many reviews from different angles, and they heard them whistling and it counted. So, we have to give them that moment and nothing I can say that about it, because I didn’t know if the puck crossed the goal-line before the whistle or after the whistle, but they made the decision.”
“We took a shot there,” Cassidy said about the review and the ensuing challenge, “hoping that the bump early on might lead to a goal waived off. Deep down we knew that it was probably going to be a longshot, but we made the call anyway – the time and score and the fact that they came back to tie it – hoping that it would go our way, but it didn’t. So I’m not going to argue with the call – you take your chances.”
Indeed there was nothing that Khudobin, Cassidy or any other member of the Bruins could say to change the league’s ruling. All the call did was give more fuel to the people who believe that the league gives preferential treatment to Crosby, rightly or wrongly.
Meanwhile, there was a whole 22 and change left of a game that the Bruins had dominated in nearly every category, including puck possession and shots on goal. After the lengthy review, they needed a response.
The Bruins got just that in the third period as the puck possession and shots on goal continued to pile up. They also got the last laugh after David Pastrnak, following a beautiful feed from Riley Nash, got behind the Pens defense sniped home the game-winner on a breakaway just 5:06 into the third.
“It was a little bit of a longer break, so maybe that helped us even though they called it a goal,” said Pastrnak, who snapped a five-game goal drought with his 11th of the season. “They had the momentum, and you know, the first shift [after the review] we said ‘no matter what happens, we need to jump back and get to our game.'”
“We came into [the locker room] between the second and third, and we thought we were in control of this game,” said Charlie McAvoy, who dazzled again in his 22:43 of ice time highlighted by his assist on Sean Kuraly’s one-timer at 10:51 of the first. “We felt like we were going to give it everything we had in the last period there, and we did.”
Did they ever.
Not only did the Bruins get a lift from Pastrnak’s goal, but the Bruins D kept the Penguins to the outside and out of the prime scoring areas as they were looking for the equalizer in the last 14:54.
“I thought our response was good in the third period, we didn’t give up much and we created enough to score a goal to get the win,” said Cassidy after seeing the Bruins team outshot 8-5 in the final 20 minutes – the only period where the Penguins had a shots on goal advantage.
Even with a call in their favor, the Evgeni Malkin-less Penguins appear to be stuck in their back-to-back Cup hangover as we enter the post-Thanksgiving slate.
On the other side, a Bruins team that’s been hampered by injuries during the first two months of the season have found a way to win four straight. For a team that caught a bad break late in the second, the young B’s didn’t let things escalate and answered appropriately to Crosby and company.