TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper held a brief and tense news conference after the Game 4 loss of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night, during which he questioned the Legality of Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri’s game-winning goal in overtime.
Cooper rambled for a minute about his love of the NHL and his team’s journey to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships before zeroing in on Kadri’s goal at 12:02 of overtime, which gave the Avalanche a 3-point lead. -1 in the series.
“This one is going to hurt a lot more than the others, just because I was taking…it was potentially…I don’t know…it’s hard for me. It’s going to be hard for me to talk. I’m going to have to talk. I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” she said. “You’ll see what I mean when you see the winning goal. And my heart breaks for the players. Because we probably should still be playing.”
With that, Cooper excused himself after a single question.
Speculation after the game was that the Lightning thought the Avalanche had six skaters on the ice before the game-winning goal was scored. There were camera angles showing six Colorado skaters on the ice as Kadri collected a pass, skated into the zone and beat goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy for the 3-2 win.
At issue was whether Nathan MacKinnon was close enough to the Avalanche bench to be considered a “retired player” when his teammate jumped onto the ice and got involved in the play. Skaters must be within 5 feet of the bench and out of the play before making a change.
“A penalty for too many men on the ice is a judgment call that can be made by any of the four officials on the ice,” NHL Hockey Operations said in a statement. “After the game, Hockey Operations met with the four officials as is their normal protocol. In discussing the game-winning goal, each of the four officials reported that they did not see too many men on the ice at the play.”
Infractions by too many men on the ice are not reviewable, even when a goal is scored.
Fueling conspiracy theories: The NHL released a score sheet to the media that had six skaters listed for the winner of the Avalanche on Kadri game and later edited that score sheet to list five skaters in line.
The NHL said that extra player, defenseman Erik Johnson, could have ended in the opening act because players jumped off the bench to celebrate after Kadri scored.
Kadri seemed taken aback by Cooper’s complaint after the game.
“I’m not quite sure what it really was, what I was thinking and why I shouldn’t have told. That kind of confuses me,” said Kadri, who played in his first game of the series after undergoing a thumb. he surgery in the Western Conference finals. “The puck hit the back of the net, end of story, so I’m not sure why I would say that.”
Cooper began his news conference by talking about his team’s fast start before quickly moving on to how difficult the Lightning’s championship run has been while also criticizing the NHL’s salary cap system.
“You know, I love this league. It’s the biggest league in the world. The people who run it are amazing. Everything about it. It’s like a dream come true for me, especially being a Canadian kid growing up and everything that’s happened. ,” he said.
“You know, I’ve been a part of some heartbreaking losses and losses of the teams that eliminated us, and I’ve been with a group that just fight, fight, fight. And they fought their way to a third straight Stanley Cup Final. And in a It was super when… when it’s so hard and the rules are stacked against you because the league wants parity. And I love that about the league. And that’s what makes it harder. And just look at this team, what they’ve been through and the battle that has followed. And we’re all in this together. Players, coaches, referees, everyone.”
Game 5 is Friday night in Denver. Teams with a 3-1 lead in the best of seven have an all-time series record of 298-31 (.906), including a 2-1 (.667) clip in 2022 and a 35- 1 (.972). ) in the Stanley Cup Final.