Anton Stralman was describing the scene to fellow defenseman Justin Falk. Goaltender Cam Talbot still seemed perplexed when recalling the sequence to a group of reporters. Coach Alain Vigneault was frank in revealing what he thought of the call to uphold Nazem Kadri's game-tying goal with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
"In my opinion, it was the wrong call," he said.
After killing off a late-game penalty to preserve a 1-0 lead in the third period, the Rangers saw that lead disappear as Kadri followed up on teammate David Clarkson's pair of whacks at the right post. While players appeared to think the play was dead, Kadri kept at it and pushed the puck through with 1:24 left on the clock.
Whether the puck crossed the line was not debatable. The video review was initiated to review whether or not the puck crossed the line legally. Because Kadri jammed the puck through, rather than drive Talbot's pad over the line, the call was upheld. The official never blew his whistle. The Rangers clearly felt he should have.
"I didn’t hear a whistle,, no, but I was expecting one because I thought I had it covered," said Talbot, whose shutout bid was subsequently spoiled. "Obviously, the ref didn’t lose sight of the puck. I thought that he would have, but that’s his call, and they went upstairs and reviewed it and the call stood."
Talbot, usually pretty calm as far as goaltenders go, was banging his stick on the crossbar trying to get the official’s attention and gesturing in protest. Brian Boyle, who was on the ice for the play, also smacked his stick in frustration.
"You call a goal on the ice, it’s hard for them to take that back," Stralman said. "It’s a tough call."
The NHL’s official explanation left something to be desired, and Vigneault’s explanation that he received secondhand via alternate captain Brad Richards didn’t do much to provide clarity.
In the end, the issue was moot as the Rangers recovered to knock off the Leafs in a shootout to close out a nine-game homestand with back-to-back wins.
If Talbot was rattled by the controversy, he didn’t show it, stopping Kadri in the third round of the shootout to seal the win. The 26-year-old backup, awarded his second straight start over franchise netminder Henrik Lundqvist, improved to 8-2-0 on the season.
"I would have been pretty devastated, especially with the game we played tonight," Talbot said. "We deserved to win the game, and to get a goal like that against us could have really hurt us. But we kind of let it go, pushed forward and got the eventual game winner.
"It didn’t really hurt us in the end, but we did a good job of staying focused and pushing forward."