WASHINGTON -- The Pittsburgh Penguins were irritated after a disallowed goal in the third period and a brutal hit to the head that took out one of their defensemen were turning points in their Game 2 loss to the Capitals on Sunday.
With 10:57 left in the game and down two goals to the Capitals, a rebound of Penguins star Sidney Crosby's wraparound attempt was stuffed into the pad of goalie Braden Holtby by Pittsburgh's Patric Hornqvist. The Penguins began celebrating what they believed to be a goal, although the on-ice officials never signaled for one. The NHL Situation Room initiated a video review. Despite footage that showed white ice between the puck and the red line, the NHL "determined that there were no definitive replays" that showed that the puck completely crossed the Washington goal line.
"It's 100 percent a goal," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after the 4-1 loss, which evened the series at 1-1. "When you blow it up, you can see the white. It's behind the post. Whether you use deductive reasoning or you can see the white, whatever it may be, that's how we saw it. So we respectfully disagree with the league and their ruling, but that's not anything we can control."
Crosby was also baffled by the decision.
"I understand what they're saying. They don't have a clear view of the puck over the line," Crosby said. "But you can clearly see that if the puck is on its edge, behind the post, it's not possible for it to touch the line. I don't know what angles they have, but the one I saw made it pretty clear that it had to be a goal."
Holtby wasn't sure if it was a goal. "The shot had hit my pad. I kind of spun around, and by the time I looked, the puck was on the goal line, and I tried to get my right foot back to try to keep it out. I really haven't seen a replay of it or anything, so I'm not sure," said the Capitals goalie, who made 32 saves in the win.
Brian Dumoulin takes a hit to the head from Tom Wilson and then gets rocked by Alex Ovechkin pic.twitter.com/TYbJCrvHx5— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) April 29, 2018
Wilson was pressuring Dumoulin from behind as the Penguin moved the puck ahead from deep inside his defensive zone. Alex Ovechkin was speeding at Dumoulin on the forecheck. Dumoulin stopped his progress to brace for the hit from Ovechkin. Wilson's shoulder then slammed into Dumoulin's head, sending him flat down on the ice. He didn't return to the game.
Wilson, who was suspended twice this season by the Department of Player Safety, defended the hit and said he wasn't targeting the head.
"I'm backchecking the puck, and he stops. Obviously, it's a big collision. I'm at no point trying to target the head at all. I'm skating, backchecking, trying to do my job, and unfortunately there's a collision there. I've watched it briefly, and I don't realize what I can really do any different. At the last second, I see [Ovechkin] coming in, and you can see me bracing, too. I end up getting kind of taken out as well," said Wilson, who said he hoped Dumoulin wasn't hurt badly on the play.
"The way I look at it: There's no way I can get his head from that point where I am. He stops and turns, and I'm kind of right there as [Ovechkin is] coming in pretty aggressively. It's a collision. I end up getting blown right out of the water, too. It's a bit of an unfortunate play that he got hurt. We'll see what happens, and we'll keep moving forward here. There are more important things going on."
Sullivan opted not to comment on the hit in his postgame news conference.
Lastly, there was a coach's challenge on the Capitals' second goal scored by Jakub Vrana, as his teammate, Brett Connolly, shoved Penguins goalie Matt Murray's pad with his stick moments before Vrana beat him at 14:54 of the first period. The NHL declared that "the actions of Connolly did not impair Murray's ability to defend his goal," and so there was no goalie interference.
"I was pretty disappointed," Murray said. "As a goalie, just want to be able to do your job. When something like that happens and you can't do it, you just want to see the rule be upheld. So I was disappointed."
The Penguins return to Pittsburgh on Tuesday for Game 3 in a series that has moved quickly from the Capitals' frustration after blowing a lead in a Game 1 loss to the Penguins' frustration after a series of controversial moments didn't go their way in a Game 2 loss. Even so, Sullivan said his team won't let them linger.
"We didn't like some of the calls. It is what it is. That's the way the game is played. We can't control that. We're not going to worry about that," he said. "We're going to let the league do their job, and we're going to do ours."