MONTREAL — Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper calmly claimed not to have any sour grapes over a call that took a go-ahead second period goal away from his team and proved to be the difference in a 3-2 loss to Montreal in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup.
But clearly, he was not happy with how it unfolded when Ryan Callahan's goal that would have give Tampa Bay a 2-1 with 4:22 left in the second period was disallowed for incidental contact by Alex Killorn on Montreal goaltender Carey Price.
“I was pissed then and I'm pissed now,'' Cooper said. “That's just my opinion and I'll let the court of public opinion take care of the rest.''
With Tampa Bay surging after tying the game on Ondrej Palat's power play goal at 8:39, Callahan put a puck on net that bounced off the skate of Price and into the net that would have put the Lightning in front. But prior to that, Alex Killorn was tripped into the net and as he made his way out of the crease area, Price appeared to lean into Killorn after getting tripped up to initiate the contact. But it was a few seconds after that moment in which Callahan took the shot on goal.
“It seemed like there was a little while after the contact that the play was going along and then it went in,'' Killorn said. “I don't know if it was an eternity, but it seemed like a long time there.''
Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser said the right call was made on the ice, citing rule 69.3 on his Twitter account.
“Correct call on disallowed goal,'' he wrote. Rule “69.3 if goalkeeper in act of establishing his position within crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease & this results with impairment of goalkeeper's ability to defend his goal, the goal will be disallowed. Carey Price knows this rule & works it to his advantage better than any goalie in the league. It's the rule & I will not debate it further.''
Cooper interpreted the play differently.
“In my opinion, Killorn ends up in the back of net, and you can debate how he got there but he did,'' Cooper said. “And in my opinion only I see (P.K.) Subban hold (Killorn) in there and then I see Price a little out of control as Killorn is trying to get out, in my opinion, jump on (Killorn) a little bit and then everything is set up. Killorn is out of the net, I don't know how many seconds ticked off, the puck goes tic-tac-toe, Price is set and is down and out and the puck in the net. That's how I saw it.
“But let's call a spade a spade, we only scored three goals . . . I mean two,'' Cooper added.