Refs anger Leafs coach

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:39 PM ET

CORAL SPRINGS, FLA. - Ron Wilson had a bone to pick with a “picayune” call by the officials late in Thursday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to Tampa Bay.

Alexei Ponikarovsky was called for unsportsmanlike conduct following the game-tying goal by Tampa’s Ryan Malone at 3:49, returning from the box from serving what the winger thought was a cheesey boarding call.

While not directly criticizing the hit or the too-many-men call that set up the overtime winner, Wilson said the extra minor for his man slamming the bench door in anger prevented the Leafs from going for a badly needed regulation win.

“At that point of the game, you’d think the referee (Chris Lee) would understand the stakes,” Wilson said Friday. “We’d just given up the tying goal, he slams the door and the guy wants to show who’s the boss so he gives a penalty.”

Some Leafs wondered if Lee even saw Ponikarovsky or just heard the door bang and didn’t like being shown up.

“This is not Sunday school for God’s sake,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to allow (some steam to escape). He slammed the door and his glove (accidentally) came off. He didn’t say a word. Give me a break That’s a really tacky penalty to call, really picayune if you ask me.”

Wilson, who likely wanted to shift some attention off his downtrodden team Friday, also used picayune to describe the two minors that Colton Orr and Jamal Mayers were assessed in the first period, giving Tampa a full 5-on-3 that the Leafs killed.

“If you can actually find the instigator (Orr) and the slash (Mayers), you’re a pretty good investigative reporter.”

Centre Wayne Primeau said teams in the Leafs’ predicament in the standings might perceive they’re not getting breaks from the officials. Stephane Auger worked the game with Lee.

“We had power plays at the start of the game, too, and you hate to say it, but they’re trying to even it up a bit,” Primeau said. “With Pony, the ref could have given him a 10-minute misconduct instead of (leaving them short a man).”

Primeau had touched the puck before Matt Stajan exited the ice, leading to the most fateful bench minor of the night.

“Maybe he could have whistled that play down,” Primeau suggested. “But because there was a 2-on-1 (scoring chance) for us going the other way and their bench was yelling, maybe they felt they had to call it.”


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