TAMPA, Fla. — Jared Bednar said there was “nothing” in the controversy surrounding Nazem Kadri’s game-winning goal in the Colorado Avalanche’s 3-2 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.
Kadri scored midway through the second period to give the Avalanche a 3-1 series lead, with a chance to end the Lightning in Game 5 on Friday.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was the first to say in his (brief) press conference Wednesday night that the goal shouldn’t have counted. The video replay appeared to show Colorado had too many men on the ice when Kadri scored, and it was Kadri who made an inappropriate line change seconds before Nathan MacKinnon returned to the bench.
Bednar said he also looked at the footage, but saw nothing wrong with the way Colorado executed.
“I thought it was nothing, honestly,” he said Thursday. “It’s part of the game. It’s a fluid game. You change on the fly, everything happens. You watch this clip, you save this clip – and I’ve done that a few times just to see what they were talking about – – and Tampa has two guys jumping on it with their Ds coming off the ice from a wide area. I’m 7-6 at one point. So that’s what it is. That’s how the game goes plays. I don’t see it as a break or no break. In fact, I see it as nothing.”
Cooper and the Lightning clearly felt differently. And at least at first, it looked like Tampa Bay was right. The original NHL scoresheet listed six players on the ice for that Kadri goal. The sheet was later amended to name just five.
The official response from the NHL was that a penalty for too many men is a judgment of the officials and is not reviewable.
“After the game, Hockey Operations met with the four officials, as is their usual protocol,” the league said in a statement. “In discussing the game-winning goal, each of the four officials indicated that they did not see an over-man situation on the play. This call is not subject to video review or Hockey Ops nor by the on-ice officials.”
Cooper apologized for his brief but heated postgame press conference on Thursday, but still says the Avalanche should have been penalized before Kadri scored in overtime.
“I [found] it’s strange that they’ve been so open about the game, but there’s nothing you can really [see] from our angle on the bench. So the only way for me to find out is to go back in the room and watch the tape,” Cooper said Thursday, before the Lightning left for Denver. [I] having to face you all five minutes after an emotional loss. And so I apologize for last night because that’s what you get when you have to talk to the media right away.”
Even so, Cooper still believes the referees “missed” the game-winning goal.
“The reason there is a rule is [in case] you gain a significant advantage, and that’s probably what happened there. But it happens like all the time in line changes. It is an inexact science. But the purpose of the rule is not to gain an advantage. So that’s a shame,” he said.
Colorado forward Darren Helm said he didn’t watch Cooper’s emotional postgame presser or participate in any of the drama surrounding Kadri’s goal. Cale Makar admitted to being aware of the apparent issue over Kadri’s goal but didn’t dig into the details.
“I haven’t really looked at it from different angles yet,” he said. “Then I would be a bad judge on [dissecting] this.”
What everyone agreed on was the impact Kadri had on his debut in the Cup final. The forward had been sidelined since breaking his thumb in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against Edmonton on June 4. He underwent surgery after being boarded by Evander Kane and just returned to shooting pucks this week.
Kadri was determined to make the first Stanley Cup Final of his career, and he caused a stir in doing so.
“He’s just been very consistent for us,” Makar said of Kadri. “Obviously he fell with the injury there, and [in Game 4] I feel like he played his role well and was able to keep his feet moving for most of the game. So you can’t ask for much more than that from a guy coming back from a few weeks off.”
Cooper did not have any injury updates on center Brayden Point, who missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury; defenseman Erik Cernak, who left Game 4 after blocking a shot in the second period; or center stop Anthony Cirelli, who injured his arm in Game 4 but finished the game.
The Lightning are one loss away after seeing their chance to triple as the Stanley Cup champions stumble.
“So this mountain is a bit higher. Well, at least we’re still climbing. We haven’t been out. [We were down] 3-1, 3-2 against Toronto. What is the difference? “, Cooper said. “We still have to go on the road and win a hockey game. We were going to have to win a game on the road anyway. We had no ice cream at home. So why not tomorrow?”
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski contributed to this report.