TAMPA, Fla. — The puck went in. Then came the delayed reaction. Then came Patrick Kane‘s phone blowing up.
Yup, the same feeling in the arena, 12 years later.
I was there for both goals.
Kane’s Cup-clinching, overtime goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in Philadelphia in June 2010 took a few moments to register, and Nazem Kadri‘s overtime goal for the Colorado Avalanche in a pivotal Stanley Cup final Game 4 here on Wednesday night felt like a replay.
“Two very similar situations, right? Because of the reaction on the ice and guys not really knowing what was going on,” Kane told The Athletic on the phone from Chicago late Wednesday night.
As soon as Kadri’s overtime goal was confirmed, giving the Avs a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and a 3-1 series lead, Kane started getting messages on his phone.
Deja vu all over again.
“Pretty cool to hear from different people tonight and bring back memories. That was 12 years ago now,” Kane said. “You can definitely understand the similarities with both goals, for sure.”
Kadri wasn’t sure what to think at first.
“I was trying to go far side. I knew I got a pretty good shot off and might have had a chance,” Kadri said. “I actually thought it was in originally, but then (Andrei) Vasilevskiy kind of fooled me there. I thought it was maybe in between his arm…
“It was sort of a two-second confusion there and then I saw everybody bull-rush the ice, and that’s how I knew it was a good goal.”
It immediately made me think of Kane in Philadelphia in 2010. The difference in that moment was that Kane knew right away the puck was in, even though almost no one else did at that very moment.
“Yeah, when it went in I saw it go through the goalie’s legs, kind of hit the back (net) pad there and kind of stuck to the back pad,” Kane said of his Game 6 winner. “The ref was right across from me and I didn’t really see any reaction from him. The building was quiet. There was no real reaction from anyone. I think that’s why I celebrated the way I did, to be honest with you, because I wanted to show that the puck was on the net and it was a goal. I saw it go in the net right away.
“And I think Sharpie (Patrick Sharp) saw that it went in as well. But it was a similar reaction to tonight as far as guys waiting for confirmation on the ice to make sure that the puck was in and it was a good goal.”
Funny thing is, Kane — from his couch in Chicago watching on TV — thought right away that Kadri had scored.
“It looked at me right away like it went in,” Kane said. “And I didn’t know if I was seeing something or what because I didn’t know where the puck was after that. It looked at me like it went in and didn’t come back down to the ice. I didn’t know where it went. And then you see I think it was (Bowen) Byram flying in there to point out the puck was in the net. It was a pretty strange situation.”
Well, just like in 2010.
“You see a goal like that tonight and it brings back memories,” Kane said. “Similar situation for sure. But it was a great move by Kadri to get himself free and get a shot on net. Pretty nifty goal by him. A lot nicer than the one I scored. But it’s definitely funny how both situations arise and all the confusion on the ice.”
What wasn’t funny for the Lightning, at least, was the assertion that Kadri’s overtime goal should not have counted because the Avs had six skaters on the ice. Not only should the goal have been called off, the Bolts feel, but the too many men penalty would have given the Lightning a power play in overtime. Talk about a double whammy.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was too upset and emotional after the game to get past the first question of his media availability, and you can understand why, as he politely told the assembled media that he would talk about it on Thursday.
Video replays clearly show six skaters on the ice, with Kadri jumping on for the departing Nathan MacKinnon and already near the middle of the ice with MacKinnon still not quite off.
As one member of the Lightning organization said via text message, it was too many men by “30 feet.”
But it wasn’t called by on-ice officials. And it’s a play that’s not reviewable.
The league’s Hockey Operations put out a statement late Wednesday night:
“A too many men on the ice penalty is a judgment call that can be made by any of the four on-ice officials. Following the game, Hockey Operations met with the four officials as is their normal protocol. In discussing the winning goal, each of the four officials advised that they did not see a too many men on the ice situation on the play. This call is not subject to video review either by Hockey Ops or the on-ice officials.”
Whenever there’s something this normally controversial in the playoffs, it leads to a rule change down the road. Think about San Jose‘s overtime goal against st. Louis a few years back and the rule change that now allows the NHL‘s Situation Room to review hand passes to disallow a goal now.
It wouldn’t surprise me if NHL GMs and the league’s Hockey Operations executives discuss whether too many men should be reviewable.
Not that it would help the Lightning in the here and now. That was a crushing loss, and Tampa Bay now needs to win three straight, including two in Denver.
And so Kadri’s overtime goal, in itself a great story given his return from injury and the fact that he’s clearly still not 100 percent healthy, will have some controversy attached to it when we look back on it because of the missed too many men call.
But it was a hell of a power move by Kadri to get around Mikhail Sergachev. Yes, it probably should have been too many men, but it’s not like Kadri got a breakaway out of it. He made an unreal move to score the winner.
And, in the moment, it was hard not to remember back 12 years ago to another big Cup final goal in overtime with a weird delayed reaction.
You don’t forget those ones.
(Photo of Nazem Kadri and teammates: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)