The visiting San Jose Sharks defeated the Winnipeg Jets last night with a come from behind victory by the score of 4-3. The Jets and their fans felt the home team's effort was shot down by two calls in the third period that went in favor of the Sharks.
Coach Paul Maurice and his Jets have a legitimate beef on the penalty shot awarded to Melker Karlsson with 10:23 remaining in regulation time that tied the game at 3 goals. Patrick Marleau pulled the visitors ahead with his 17th goal of the season with 4:33 left to play and the Sharks hung on for the victory.
On the Jets potential game tying goal with 17 seconds remaining, and jammed into the net by Dustin Byfluglien along with a portion of Sharks goalie Aaron Dell's pad , I agree with and support Referee Chris Lee's decision to blow his whistle to kill the play and wave off the potential goal.
Let's take a closer look at both plays following this link to Golf Travel ETC, an allaccess company. I hope to see you at the Waste Management Phoenix Open next week in one of their 4 luxury suites on the Par 3, #16 Stadium Hole...
With the Jets on the power play, the puck hoped over the stick of Jacob Trouba at the Sharks blue line and a footrace ensued through the neutral zone between Karlsson and Trouba. The Sharks player quickly grabbing the lead lane. Trouba never gave up on the chase and made a very good defensive play by utilizing a legal stick check (stick to stick contact on the shaft and below the hands of Karlsson.)
So the next questions you might ask is why and how could a penalty shot be awarded on this play? There are a couple of significant factors that referee Kevin Pollock would have perceived from his position and perspective on the play.
The above picture represents the sightline the referee had on the play just prior to Trouba initiating stick contact in the race for the loose puck. Notice that even though Trouba is bent forward in a lowered posture, his stick is raised high above his head. This would give the referee the impression of a "powerful and forceful" chop/slash once that stick was brought down.
Additionally, the white line represents Pollock's likely sightline from his position just marginally ahead of the play. This position provides an obstructed view as the referee attempts to look through Karlsson's body in an effort to determine a potential stick violation.
The black markings on the ice facing into and ahead of the play would provide a better vantage point and perspective of the downward stick action of Trouba for the referee. This position must be gained quickly to lead the play once the puck hopped over Trouba's stick at the far blue line.
Trouba brought his stick down and across to make contact with the shaft of Karlsson's stick below the Shark player's lower hand and as puck possession was acquired. Trouba's hand(s) are positioned below both of Karlsson's but it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the referee to determine if contact to the top hand or body of the Shark player had been made.
Finally, the last piece of information that the referee perceived, and most likely one that caused him to throw his hand up (thinking that stick contact had been delivered to the hand), was when Karlsson had no play on the puck and took his top hand off his stick and gave the glove a little shake. It was at this point the penalty was called.
Once the referee felt that an infraction had been committed the only call he could make on this play was to award a penalty shot.
With 17 seconds remaining and the Jets net empty for an extra attacker Blake Wheeler shot the puck at the Sharks net and was turned aside by Aaron Dell. Mark Scheifele immediately banged the rebound back toward the goal and the puck ended up under the closed pads of Dell. The goalkeeper was in a controlled position with his pads flat on the ice and pointed toward 11 o'clock. Dustin Buyflien was well outside the goal crease but with an unobstructed path. Referee Chris Lee was in good position slightly behind the goal line and driving toward the net as a result of the potential scramble.
Byfuglien jammed his stick into the pads of Dell with a hard push that rotated the goalies posture toward the 3 o'clock position at the goal post, ultimately elevating Dell's pad(s) off the covered puck.
Recognizing this action by the Jets player, Referee Lee made the wise and correct decision with an intent to blow his whistle and kill the play. The whistle can be heard as the puck was crossing the goal line as the referee assumed a perfect position at the back of the net.
This was not a quick whistle as some might suggest. Instead it was quick thinking and the correct response once the goalkeeper was being pushed off the puck by an attacking player.