MONTREAL - Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper summed up what he felt - and by extension what Lightning Nation (if such a thing exists) is feeling- as they look up out of the darkness of a 3-0 hole in their opening round series against the Montreal Canadiens.Follow @SlamSports
“I was pissed then and I’m pissed now,” said Cooper after a controversial 3-2 loss to the Habs at the Bell Centre which puts the Lightning on the brink of a sweep. “That’s just my opinion. I’ll let the court of public opinion take care of the rest.”
The court of public opinion, of course, will be divided by area code.
Those in the 514 will see Tampa’s Alex Killorn interfering with Canadiens goaltender Carey Price with the score 1-1 late in the second and referee Francis Charron rightly disallowing a goal moments later by Tampa’s Ryan Callahan.
Those in the 813 see a bogus call that saw enough time elapse between the contact involving Killorn and Price, with Callahan scoring what would have been the go-ahead goal.
“He’s the one in charge. In my opinion, I saw it differently,” said Cooper. “He’s a human being. I see it one way and he sees it another.”
After the Lightning had overcome Montreal’s Rene Bourque scoring his third goal of the series just 11 seconds into the game, to tie it on a power play goal by Ondrej Palat in the second, it looked like Callahan had given them the lead.
Killorn had gone hard to the net and fallen into the goal, was blocked for a second by Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban from getting out and then had Price bump into him when he tried to get out of the blue paint.
Price went to his left, tried to scramble back to his right and had the puck beat him.
“I made a hard play to the net and I fell in the net. Once I was in the net, I don’t know if Subban was trying to block a shot, but he was kind of in my way. I couldn’t get out of the way. Once I got out of the way, from what I saw quickly, Price was trying to make some ground and kind of jumped towards me. I don’t know,” said Killorn.
“I was just trying to get out of the way. I know it’s a tough situation for him because I am a little bit in Carey’s way. I don’t know if he’s jumping on me, if he needs to do that.”
That led to a few informative tweets from former NHL referee Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall):
Correct call on disallowed goal! 69.3if goalkeeper in act of establishing his position within crease, initiates contact with an attacking— Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall) April 21, 2014
Player who is in the goal crease & this results with impairment of goalkeeper's ability to defend his goal, the goal will be disallowed.— Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall) April 21, 2014
Cary Price knows this rule & works it to his advantage better than any goalie in the league. It's the rule & I will not debate it further!— Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall) April 21, 2014
“I tried to come back across the net and I tripped over their guy that was right in the middle of the crease,” said Price. “At that point I didn’t know what was going on or where the puck was. You can’t be in the middle of the crease.”
As far as the second or two that elapsed between the bump and the puck entering the net, Killorn was asked if thought it was “an eternity.”
“Yeah, it seemed like it was a good scramble there for a little bit. It seemed like it was a little after we made contact. The play was going along and then it went in. I don’t know if it was an eternity, but it seemed like there was a little bit of time there.”
That all happened at 15:38 of the second and less than three minutes later, Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher scored to make it 2-1. P.K. Subban did a brilliant tour of the Lightning zone, leaving Bolts rookie Ondrej Palat to pitchfork himself over the side of the net and wind up in a crumpled heap.
Tomas Plekanec made it 3-1 at 5:43 of the third before Tampa’s Matt Carle scored on a screened shot and the Lightning pressed, but couldn’t get the equalizer.
“How often is it a player goes behind the net and his stick gets caught in the net and he trips over it to leave a guy open? When did that happen?” wondered Cooper. “It just seems like things like that are happening to us.”
“I thought we deserved a little better fate tonight,” said Stamkos. “It was a tough call on the disallowed goal. That changes the game. We worked hard and we played well, definitely our best game of the series, probably deserved a bit better. We can’t hang our heads now. We’re against the wall.”
That’s one thing which the court of opinion, no matter the area code, can agree upon.
COOPER LEFT CONFUSED
The look on the face of Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper summed up the night.
He had a cynical smile on his face while he gave his head an incredulous shake.
That was after Canadiens goaltender Carey Price had gone to the bench with 59 seconds left in the second period and the Habs facing a faceoff after an icing call in their end. A Canadiens trainer worked on Price’s skate.
Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban was tired and Price bought him some time.
“You know, an icing rule is put in, I didn’t know you were allowed to go to the bench and all of a sudden your skates, in that instance, that your skates lose an edge. That happened twice in the game,” said Cooper.
“Everybody’s trying to do their best. We’re trying to do our best, the Canadiens are trying to do their best, the refs are trying to do their best. But it’s just tough to swallow for us.
“But let’s call a spade a spade. We only scored three goals. I mean, two. And they got three.”
That last one was a dig at the Tampa goal that was disallowed late in the second period with the game tied.
Subban, of course, saw it all as legit.
“You know what? (Price) was complaining about it the shift before, to be honest with you, about his pad. So maybe it’s just irony, it just so happened I had been out there a while. Obviously I was thankful for the rest, yeah.”