One play. Just one play can change the entire course of the game.
Sometimes it’s something a player does. Sometimes it’s something the coaching staff does. And sometimes, it’s what the referees do — or don’t do.
In the Rangers 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals, the referees cost the Blueshirts the game.
The New Yorkers battled hard all night.
They came out and outshot the Capitals 19-9 in the first period. They scored first; courtesy of a power-play goal from Kevin Hayes.
For one of the few times this season, the Blueshirts actually played a 60-minute game.
In a tough road environment, they even managed to take a third period lead when Ryan Spooner registered the go-ahead goal.
So, how — if they did all those things right — did the referees manage to cost them a win?
Simple. They ignored the rule book.
With time winding down in regulation, the Capitals pulled Braden Holtby for the extra attacker. But before Holtby got to the bench, the “sixth skater” played the puck.
By rule, that’s a too many men on the ice penalty.
Heck the officials even whistled the play dead. It was a clear as day call; until it wasn’t.
After a moment of discussion, the officials determined there had been no infraction and Washington went ahead with their attack; scoring the game-tying goal at the 18:55 mark of the third period.
And then, the Caps won the game in overtime; courtesy of a goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
HIS MAJESTY: Henrik Lundqvist returned from a multi-game absence to make 30-saves; including robbing Kuznetsov on a penalty-shot. He may be 36, but Lundqvist is still one of the most capable goaltenders in the NHL.
SPOONMAN: Ryan Spooner’s third period goal gave the Blueshirts a temporary 2-1 lead. By doing so, he’s recorded 15 points in as many games since being dealt to the Rangers on February 26th.
P.K. ALL DAY: The Blueshirts went a perfect three-for-three on the penalty-kill. As Henrik Lundqvist said, “our PK was very good. It kept us in the game all night.”
ROOKIE POWER: In his second career game, Lias Andersson tallied his second career point; an assist on Ryan Spooner’s third period goal. In two games, Andersson now has a goal and assist to his credit.
The Rangers host Steven Stamkos and the Lightning Friday (March 30) at MSG. Game time: 7 p.m. ET. Broadcast: MSG Networks. NOTE-It’s the Rangers’ last home game of the season.
“At the end of the day, they had too many men on the ice,” said Head Coach Alain Vigneault. “It was an easy call to make. And they didn’t make it.”