It doesn’t take long in a playoff series for a narrative or controversy to kind of take hold. Every game is so important, and the outcome of each game has such wild potential swings — 1-1 or 0-2, 3-0 or 2-1, 3-1 or 2-2, etc. — that every big moment is magnified in importance.
So it was in Game 2, where the Isles had a late lead but lost it, which paved the way for a controversial overtime goal that highlighted the penalty disparity and left the Islanders heading home trailing 2-0 instead of tied 1-1.
I try (usually successfully) to not dwell on officiating, and I try not to get too caught up when a missed call happens in the vicinity of a pivotal moment — calls are missed constantly, and officials’ human flaws are exacerbated by the high-stakes playoffs.
When the Islanders play a strong 5-on-5 game, yet get four/six penalty calls (it’s recorded as six Hurricanes power plays, with the two double-minors counting as two each), receive zero power plays, and then lose in overtime right after a missed high stick to the face?
That’s hard to overlook when compiling grievances. Both Isles double-minors came from high-sticking calls. And yet...
Pretty big missed call here: Martinook high sticks Mayfield, but there's no call. This happened just before the game-winner. pic.twitter.com/XeFHQbKCfn— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 20, 2023
True to his form, Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour was having none of that action, and dramatically weaponized news of Teuvo Teravainen’s broken hand by saying J-G Pageau “absolutely tomahawk chopped him” while the pedestrian Hurricanes winger was shooting on yet another Hurricanes power play in the third.
WATCH: Rod Brind'Amour shares that Teuvo Teravainen suffered a broken hand. He'll have surgery tomorrow. Will miss rest of series. pic.twitter.com/73C3u55o32— Kate Rogerson (@KateRogersonTV) April 20, 2023
That incident didn’t draw broadcast attention at the time, and the Islanders were already shorthanded (again), so it’s not shocking the refs called, or saw (or chose to see?), nothing. They’ve been inconsistent about slashes through both games of the series.
Anyway, if Ilya Sorokin stands on his head like we’ve come to expect, then the above doesn’t matter. (To be fair, he was essential in killing those penalties.) Thus far, the only undisputed edge the Isles had coming into this series has not quite been that. Jaccob [sic] Slavin’s late equalizer from a bad angle took advantage of the high space; the winning goal was a tough cross-slot play, but Sorokin was too deep in his net to cover all angles.
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the Islanders head home trailing 2-0, but how they got there is frustrating, all things considered.
- Neither goalie was that great, and the Islanders probably deserved a split from the first two games. Hockey gods disagreed. [LHH]
- So that’s an 0-2 hole for the good guys...but at least they haven’t lost at home yet! [Newsday]
- It looked like they might be locking down for the win, but things changed in a hurry. [Post]
- As Brind’Amour dramatically announced, Teravainen has a broken something and needs surgery. [NHL]
- Getting zero power plays while the other team got six (did we already mention that?) made the between-games tweaks to the power play moot. [Newsday]
- No chances for the power play, but continued physical play. Parise: “We have physical players that have done a good job, and that stuff adds up late into the series.” [Athletic]
- The Islanders were asked lots about the lopsided penalty ledger, and would only respond with oblique, brief signs of frustration and the need to focus on the next game. [Post | THN]
One more on the high-stick non-call: Mike Rupp takes great pains to explain why you’re not always supposed to be in control of your own stick (he’s wrong), especially not in overtime and especially if you’re engaged and only holding it with one hand (I’d agree with him in spirit, if only that were the rule and if only things were actually consistently called that way, but they’re not: the rulebook clearly states the requirement to be “in control and responsible for [your] stick”):
Also last night: The Panthers stunned the Bruins, the Wild got cute and started Marc-Andre Fleury and paid for it with a 7-3 loss, and the Oilers blew another two-goal lead but survived to even the series.
- As noted earlier, and pretty much every round every year, goaltending has been important thus far. [TSN]
- This was a deal even before last night’s lopsided penalty ledger: Penalties and special teams have been big too. [TSN]
- The Devils say the “mood is great” but maybe need more intensity. [NHL]
- Injury updates: Erik Cernak is out, and Victor Hedman will be a game-time decision for the Lightning. [NHL]
- Michael Bunting, who caused Cernak’s injury with a major elbow penalty, has been suspended three games. [NHL]
- Mark Stone was in no mood to panic after Vegas lost Game 1 to a second-year team. [TSN]
The Leafs will try to rebound tonight after getting trounced in Game 1. If you like to gawk at their pain, enjoy some of these: