The Lightning are one win away from securing the franchise’s second Stanley Cup championship thanks to a 5-4 overtime win in Game 4 of the Final on Friday night.
Tampa Bay was on a power play 6 1/2 minutes into the extra session when defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk skated into the right circle and then sent the puck through the legs of a Dallas penalty killer and past Stars netminder Anton Khudobin.
Both benches were fired up, but for different reasons. Of course, Tampa Bay was thrilled as it took a commanding a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The opposite bench, not so much. Why? The Stars considered the penalty call on captain Jamie Benn that led to the Lightning’s man advantage questionable.
“That’s a hockey play,” head coach Rick Bowness said postgame. “I looked at the replay a couple of times and it’s two guys . . . and you’re going for a loose puck and they’re hooking us and we’re fighting through the hook. That’s what I saw.”
Benn and the Lightning’s Tyler Johnson were going for the puck as it was sliding into the neutral zone. The two were tangled up, Johnson went down and the Stars forward was called for tripping.
“The refs got a tough job. I see it,” said Stars forward Joe Pavelski, who had two goals in the game. “It’s in front of (referee) Kelly (Sutherland), he’s got a great look at it, the back ref (Francis Charron) calls it. I don’t have a ton of time for a play where Tyler Johnson steps in front of Jamie Benn and has no real effect in the play.
“Jamie breathes on him and the guy falls over. Whether that’s the case or not, there’s a little battle going on there. But it’s playoffs, it’s overtime — we expect five-on-five — we expect to battle it out.”
When asked about Pavelski’s comments regarding the call, Bowness said: “The players want to dictate the end of the game and they’re right. They want to play five-on-five and let’s see what happens here. Yeah, the players are right. Let the players decide the game.”
The goal by Shattenkirk — who, by the way, was bought out last summer by the Rangers before signing with Tampa Bay — was the Lightning’s third on the power play in the game. Dallas had a chance with the man advantage early in the extra frame but was not able to capitalize.
Twitter was also unsure about the overall officiating in the game.
Terrible. I feel awful for Dallas. As bad a call as the one against Acciari last year.
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) September 26, 2020
“I disagree with the call but it’s out of our control,” added defenseman John Klingberg, who scored the Stars’ opening goal. “Let’s move on.”
Move on they shall, and quickly. The puck drops on Game 5 at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.