How the Penguins' Game 1 victory can be traced to the Lightning

Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel, front, celebrates a goal by teammate Evgeni Malkin in front of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne during the first period in Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel, front, celebrates a goal by teammate Evgeni Malkin in front of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne during the first period in Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Pittsburgh.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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The Nashville Predators were robbed Monday night. They weren’t the only ones who lost. Fans of the NHL lost, too.

In what has become a ridiculous rule, the Predators had the first goal of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals wiped out because of a replay challenge that, allegedly, showed Nashville’s Filip Forsberg being offsides just before P.K. Subban’s goal. Forsberg appeared to be onside (even the linesman standing two feet away thought so), but replay officials determined that Forsberg lifted his right skate ever-so-slightly off the ice, thus making him offsides.

The goal was waved off and the Preds went on to lose to the Penguins, 5-3, counting an empty-net goal.

Two things about this dumb rule.

One, if a player’s skate is clearly behind the line, it shouldn’t matter if his skate is actually touching the ice or not. He still should be considered onside.

Second, let’s get rid of the replay challenge. Linesmen almost always get this call right and in all of these cases – every one – no advantage is being gained by the offensive team. Let the linesman make the call and make those calls final.

But there’s more to this story. You know who is to blame for all of this?

The Tampa Bay Lightning.

The only reason this replay review of offsides was put in play is because of an overtime goal the Lightning scored in the playoffs in 2015. That year, in the opening game of the second round against Montreal, the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov scored the winner in double overtime. Kucherov’s goal came just seconds after the play should have been called offsides when Kucherov clearly entered the zone before the puck. Back then, offsides was not reviewable.

Naturally, when the Canadiens were on the wrong end of a missed call, the league had to change the rulebook.

Interestingly, the Lightning was also bitten by the rule change. In Game 6 of last season’s Eastern Conference final, the Lightning’s first goal of the game was waved off for a similar reason as Monday night. Replay officials determined that Jonathan Drouin was offsides when he lifted his back skate off the ice as he was entering the zone.

The Lightning lost Game 6 and then Game 7 in Pittsburgh.

So the hockey gods eventually got even with the Lightning. Now if those who run the NHL would get rid of this dumb offsides/replay challenge rule, there would be true justice in the game.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones.

 

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