Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper got his too-many-men penalty on Friday — and seemingly so much more.
With the Stanley Cup in the building and the Avalanche a Game 5 victory away from hoisting it, the Lightning received several favorable calls inside Ball Arena — including the aforementioned too-many-men infraction with 2:43 left in regulation that spoiled a chance at an extended rally for the Avs.
In all, Colorado was assessed five minor penalties and two of them cost the Avalanche dearly in Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory to force Game 6 in Tampa on Sunday.
The Lightning, who complained about a too-man-men non-call on Colorado that led to the Avs’ overtime goal in Game 4, committed three penalties and the Avs were 0-for-2 on the power play.
“I’m not getting into that,” Colorado captain Gabe Landeskog said of the discrepancies in penalties. “It’s something they can continue to do. We’re not doing that. We’re focusing on our game, watch some video tomorrow and fine-tune some things going into Tampa.”
Cale Makar’s outstanding two-point performance was tarnished by his tripping minor behind Colorado’s net at 6:58 of the second period. In a 4-on-4 sequence, the star Avs defenseman turned to retrieve a loose puck he was destined to collect by trying to get his stick in front of him.
Instead, it got caught between the legs of Ondrej Palat, who fell to the ice. Makar joined teammate J.T Compher in the penalty box and the Lightning went on to score the only power play goal of the game on a 4-on-3 advantage for a 2-1 lead.
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet,” Makar said of the replay of his penalty. “It’s obviously to the ref’s discretion. Varies game by game but at the end the day, we just got to battle through it.”
When pressed about discussing the penalty, Makar said: “I’m not here to talk about the refs. We have to battle through that. It’s playoffs, there’s going to be discrepancies game to game with different people. It is what it is. You can’t get your emotions taken into that. For me, that (tripping penalty) doesn’t happen very often but at the end of the day you have to refocus.”
Colorado took the game’s first two penalties 3:13 and 6:58 of the first period.
The first question posed to Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was the discrepancy in penalties, and particularly Makar’s at 4-on-4. Given that a 4-on-3 power play is more dangerous than 5-on-4 because there’s more space in the zone because of fewer bodies, it was a big call.
“I didn’t love that call just because there was no intent there. I don’t even think he was checking that guy,” Bednar said. “Looked to me like he kind of tripped over a stick. It’s a tough one. They got their only power-play goal on that one. So that hurt, stung a little bit, but it is what it is. You got to roll with the punches.”
Bednar did not have a problem with the too-many-men penalty that stalled the Avs’ late threat to forced overtime.
“I think we left there early, yep. The puck kind of popped out to center ice, guys on the way to the bench and guys went out early,” he said.
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