The Carolina Hurricanes broadcast of their 1-0 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks went off air this morning at approximately 1:04 am and it left every Canes fan still awake at that time scratching their heads, wondering why on Earth they stayed up late to watch that game. The contest featured a goaltending duel, essentially no offense, a floating stick that directly led to the only goal of the game, and the NHL referees blatantly costing the Hurricanes the win. Not exactly a thriller in British Columbia.
The Good - At Least There Wasn’t A Shootout
For fans on the East Coast, these late night affairs can always be challenging to stay up and watch. You depend on some goal scoring, chippiness, and maybe even a fight to keep you awake. The Oilers contest on Tuesday had most all of that except an actual fight. Last night had...um, none of it.
Petr Mrazek was by far the best player for the Hurricanes and their penalty kill units were the only other thing worth talking about. Beyond that it was a snooze-fest. Both team had occasional opportunities to score including a couple of breakaways for both sides but there weren’t even many quality scoring chances for both sides.
Further proof the game was a bore is when the Hurricanes are tweeting out routine glove saves as highlights.
December 13, 2019
Give all the credit in the world to both goalies, especially Jacob Markstrom who earned every bit of his 43-save shutout. But nobody loves a 0-0 game entering overtime except goalies...and Frank Beamer.
Frank Beamer celebrating 0-0— The Ford Faction (@TheFordFaction) November 1, 2017
Greatest picture ever? pic.twitter.com/lS1TdbeLTU
All in all, us late night owls that stayed up to watch this contest just want to say thank you to the Canucks for putting us all out of our misery before this game could get to the shootout and waste another 30 minutes of sleep we could have had.
The Bad - The Fluky Game Winner
Jaccob Slavin had an uncharacteristic night last night in the sense that he felt like a regular NHL defenseman, not the super-mega-amazing defenseman that he usually is. That being said, even given an off night, nobody could have predicted exactly how his stick would cost the Hurricanes the game.
After the Canucks entered the zone Slavin made a good play to break up a 2-on-1 and after the puck cycled around Slavin collided with Brock Boeser and lost his stick. That very stick laid flat on the ice, seemingly harmless, as Slavin tried to push the puck out of the zone with his hand while diving down. However, Slavin was unable to get any force on the puck and Boeser picked it up and passed it toward the middle of the ice.
Here’s the weird part. That pass from Boeser goes directly into Slavin’s stick and rebounds perfectly off of it to Elias Pettersson who then roofs a ridiculous shot to beat Mrazek.
What a perfect time to hit @NHL points! @_EPettersson dazzles scoring the OT game-winner. @EASportsNHL #NHL20 pic.twitter.com/9yh2yiRQcv— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) December 13, 2019
There is absolutely no way you could recreate that play again if you tried. The odds of Slavin, one of the best defensemen in the NHL, losing his stick, not being able to clear the puck with his hand, having said puck go off his driftwood and right to Pettersson who manages to get the puck just barely under the crossbar, simply aren’t very high.
But it happened, the Canes got beat by a fluke play and that’s what it was going to take last night they way both goalies were playing.
The Ugly - The Win That Was Taken Away
It’s hard to blame the referees for a team losing a game. There are a hundred other things that go on in a game that can change the outcome. But occasionally you find a situation where the human error made by a referee directly changes the outcome of a contest and last night we saw one of those instances.
The Carolina Hurricanes won the game last night in regulation 1-0, but yet in the record books they lost 1-0 in overtime.
The incident in question occurred during the second period while the Hurricanes had the puck on a delayed call against Vancouver. With six skaters out, the Hurricanes maintained possession for quite a long time before Sebastian Aho one-timed a puck past Markstrom. Only the refs blew the play dead because the puck very lightly deflected off Antoine Roussel’s stick.
#Canucks catch a huge break here, as the play was blown dead before Sebastian Aho's goal because of a very light Antoine Roussel touch on the cross-seam pass: pic.twitter.com/tEUaRd0bJf— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) December 13, 2019
Noticed the wording: deflected off his stick. Roussel did not gain possession of the puck in any way. In fact the Canucks had already had the puck deflect off another one of their sticks in the same sequence only for play to continue. There was absolutely zero reason for the ref to blow this play dead and it cost the Hurricanes a goal.
After the game Jordan Staal said the referee apologized but that means nothing. That goal should have counted, the Hurricanes should have won 1-0 in regulation, and yet here we are.
Jordan Staal said the refs apologized for the Sebastian Aho no goal and it should’ve been a goal— Sara Civ (@SaraCivian) December 13, 2019
The question here shouldn’t be why did the referee blow the play dead? Rather, why is this not a reviewable play? Criticize the NFL all you want, but they make damn sure that a score is a score no matter what the call on the field was. Yes, their replay system has gone too far with the new pass interference stuff, but when we talk about scoring plays they get it right every time. Why can’t the NHL do the same?
The league updated the rules after the Blues vs Sharks playoff disaster to allow coaches to challenge missed stoppages in the offensive zone. Depending on how you view the term missed, shouldn’t this play be reviewable too? The referee clearly missed the call!
Again, it’s hard to blame the referees for the outcome of any professional sporting event. But last night was one of the times where they one hundred percent impacted the outcome and cost the Hurricanes a goal that would have won the game. If the NHL really wants a better league, this type of play needs to be reviewable. Period.
Moral of the Story
Last night was a tough game to watch. It was not entertaining and it cost a lot of us valuable sleep. Props to both Mrazek and Markstrom for their outstanding play but Carolina knows they should have won that game. A fluke play may have won the game in the record books, but a bad call cost Carolina the game in reality.