While it isn't unanimously viewed as a blown call, many in the hockey community feel the San Jose Sharks were robbed of a victory in their Game 4 loss against the Nashville Predators.
Joe Pavelski appeared to score in the first overtime but was called for incidental goaltender interference.
Certainly some readers can call upon by bias as an admitted Sharks fan.
However, my view, as is the view of many objective analysts, is that Pavelski was not only cross-checked, but tripped on his way to the crease.
At the rate of speed he was going, there was little Pavelski could do to avoid contact with Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. Less than a second goes by from the time Pavelski is hit from behind to the time he makes contact with Rinne. He had gone up to glove down the puck and therefore was off balance. He is then trying to play the puck with his stick as a second Predators player trips him. How he's supposed to avoid falling where he did while twice being interfered with is beyond me.
Click on this link for the YouTube clip fo the disallowed goal. My advice is to watch it at full speed a half dozen times before slowing it down. Slow-mo doesn't give you an idea just how fast this play happens.
The NHL rules state that a player won't be deemed to have interfered with the goalie if he is pushed in by an opponent. Pavelski did not have any opportunity to avoid contact with Rinne after being directed into that area twice. The goal should have counted.
San Jose can't change the fact that they should be up 3-1 instead of tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven series so they will have to move on. The good news is they played a strong couple of overtimes and have some experience to draw on from years past.
With their history of coming up short in the playoffs---losing in the first round after winning the President's trophy and being reverse swept by the Kings---many fans will say the Sharks crumble when faced with adversity. However, there are a couple of reason to believe San Jose won't crumble after the disappointing end to Game 4.
First and foremost is that this year's Sharks team is much, much deeper than in years past when San Jose experienced their most infamous playoff losses. And secondly, five of their current core players have experience bouncing back from a similar bad break in the playoffs.
During the first round of the 2010 playoffs, now former Shark defenseman Dan Boyle's clearing attempt towards the end boards deflected off Ryan O'Reilly's stick and somehow snuck into the net behind Evgeni Nabokov less than a minute into overtime. That could have been soul crushing. But how did the Sharks respond?
Not only did Boyle score himself early in the first period the very next game, but Pavelski scored in overtime to tie the series at 2-2. The Sharks would eventually win the series in six games. Along with Pavelski, current Sharks Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were all apart of that series.
San Jose is fully capable of putting the bad luck behind them and moving on. The Sharks are a veteran-laded team, that has shown they can handle adversity this season. Call it a hunch, but I'm betting Pavelski will open the scoring in Game 5.