Fans in Columbus were furious after the Pittsburgh Penguins scored the game-tying goal with Blue Jackets’ defenseman Zach Werenski injured on the ice.
A shot from Phil Kessel deflected off Werenski’s stick, catching the blueliner up high but just under his protective visor.
Werenski went down, but play continued.
With the Penguins in possession of the puck, the officials delayed stopping the action. The absence of Werenski, bleeding heavily as he moved toward the bench, gave Pittsburgh a temporary man advantage. The Pens took advantage, with Bryan Rust converting a Malkin pass to tie the game.
The NHL rule book covers injured players in 8.1:
When a player is injured so that he cannot continue play or go to his bench, the play shall not be stopped until the injured player’s team has secured control of the puck. If the player’s team is in control of the puck at the time of injury, play shall be stopped immediately unless his team is in a scoring position.
In the case where it is obvious that a player has sustained a serious injury, the Referee and/or Linesman may stop the play immediately.
Werenski was able to get back to his feet and head to the bench. It’s not apparent whether the officials immediately picked up on the severity of Werenski’s injury, but his mobility would have inclined them to allow play to continue.
Coumbus Dispatch scribe Aaron Portzline asked NHL Series Officiating Supervisor Don Koharski about the call.
#NHL on-site officiating supervisor Don Koharski refuses to say if correct call was made by play continuing with Werenski down, bleeding.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) April 17, 2017
Werenski returned to the ice for the third period, but was unable to take part in overtime due to increased swelling, obstructing his vision.
“It got to the point where he couldn’t see,” Columbus head coach John Tortorella said after the Blue Jackets’ 4-3 overtime loss. “That’s why he didn’t play in OT.”
After the game, his injuries looked downright horrifying.
Playoff hockey… pic.twitter.com/4GNoLYVECu
— Zach Werenski (@ZachWerenski) April 17, 2017
According to Tortorella, Werenski will miss the remainder of the playoffs with facial fractures suffered during Game 3.
The two teams meet again on Tuesday. Werenski will obviously be out of the lineup. Matt Calvert, coming off a one-game suspension for cross-checking, may be back.