Don’t tell San Jose coach Peter DeBoer his Sharks have gotten lucky during their playoff run.
“It irks me when you use words like that because this is a team that we’ve played four or five elimination games, not moments, games, 12 to 15 periods of elimination hockey against Vegas and Colorado,” DeBoer said. “I think it’s a ridiculous statement.”
Ridiculous or not, the Sharks have had their fair share of puck luck during their run.
The latest example came Wednesday night on Erik Karlsson’s game-winning goal against St. Louis in overtime. The officials missed a hand pass by Timo Meier, who used his right hand to knock the loose puck toward the front of the net where a quick pass set up Karlsson for his second goal of the game. The Sharks take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference final into Game 4 Friday night.
Meier was even given an assist on the play though his stick never touched the puck.
“It’s a fast game,” Meier said. “I went down on the ice. I got cross-checked after the puck was in the air so I was on the ice, looked up and the puck was in the net and I saw the guys celebrating.”
For all the frustration among the Blues and their long-suffering fans, the play was not subject to review.
“Those things happen so quickly on the ice, there’s so many bodies flying around and there’s split-second decisions and it’s easy when you guys sit there and look at a TV monitor and criticize and hold people accountable for errors that happen in milliseconds,” DeBoer said. “We’ve had calls go against us, we’ve had calls go for us and we’re still standing. For anybody to minimize that is disrespectful to our group and what we’ve done.”
Sharks forward Logan Couture, whose goal with 61 second left in the third period sent the game to overtime, said such calls are part of the game.
“Right now, we’ve got some in big areas of games, but there’s some throughout those games that go against us as well,” Couture said.
In the first round, San Jose trailed Vegas 3-0 in the third period of Game 7 before scoring four times during a five-minute power play stemming from a controversial major penalty called against the Golden Knights. In the next round, a tying goal by Colorado was waved off in Game 7 on an offside challenge involving Gabriel Landeskog, who was leaving the ice on a line change.
The latest call may have had the most impact simply because it ended the game. Unlike Vegas or Colorado, the Blues had no time to recover.
The call was so egregious that multiple sports books in Las Vegas offered refunds, called a “Good Karma Payout,” to betters who took the Blues on Wednesday.
“The combination of a clear hand pass and an unreviewable play made this a pretty easy decision,” PointsBet CEO Johnny Aitken said in a statement. “The Sharks have been the beneficiary of a few questionable calls throughout the playoffs, which probably only further incensed Blues backers.”
The Blues themselves said they were more interested in looking ahead.
“It’s a test, that’s how you look at it,” coach Craig Berube said. “It’s a tough place, a tough call, but it’s just a test and, again, we’ve been tested over and over throughout the season and the playoffs and we’re pretty good at bouncing back. It’s a mental thing.”
Berube noted the team had a chance to end the game in regulation, but did not.
“We need to move on after this decision,” Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko said. “It’s not going to change anyways. We have an option to discuss about it for the next few days and be not ready for the next game or just step over it and I know we’re down in the series but we have a chance to tie it again. We just have to focus on ourselves.”