The Arizona Coyotes let their two goal lead slip away on Thursday night, ultimately watching the New York Rangers claw back for a 4-3 victory. Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett pointed to a missed call late in the second period as the pivotal moment in the game.
Rangers forward Derick Brassard attempted to play the puck along the boards in the Arizona zone. He got his stick up, catching Coyotes defenseman Andrew Campbell in the mouth. Campbell went to the bench for repairs, obviously bleeding.
There was no penalty called on the play.
If one of the linesmen had seen Brassard’s stick cut Campbell, he would have been able to stop play. Per NHL rule 32.4 (xii):
The Linesman must stop play immediately and report to the Referees when it is apparent that an injury has resulted from a high-stick that has gone undetected by the Referees and requires the assessment of a double-minor penalty.
If, however, the officials determined that the injury was the result of a follow-through on a shot our pass, there would be no penalty on the play.
“It was a huge turning point in the game,” said Tippett. “It was a non-call. They say all four [officials] missed it, which I find that hard to fathom, on the high stick from Brassard. It should have been a double-minor. It doesn’t get called, comes back down, and they’re still on the power play. The puck bounces over a defenseman’s stick and goes in.”
That defenseman was Connor Murphy, who was unable to control the puck after Antoine Vermette won an offensive zone faceoff. Rangers winger Chris Kreider took advantage, breaking down the left wing and driving to the net for his second goal of the game. Kreider’s goal tied the game at 3-3.
“Then, obviously, [goaltender Mike Smith] is frustrated and they give Smitty a penalty [for unsportsmanlike conduct],” said Tippett. “There’s a six-minute [penalty swing] in the game there. It’s a big factor in the game.”
Smith downplayed the missed call, choosing instead to place the blame on his club, who held a 3-1 lead going into the first intermission.
“It had nothing to do with the call,” said Smith. “We continued to shoot ourselves in the foot. At that point it’s a 3-2 lead, under a minute left in the period, faceoff in their end and somehow they get a breakaway. You have to know what time it is in games, what the score is and that determines how you play and what kind of chances you take. We continue to make tough decisions at tough times in games and it ends up in the back of our net.”
Tippett was asked if the referees huddles with the linesmen to discuss the call, as they’ve done in other situations this season.
“No,” he replied. “They just said none of them saw it.”
If it was, in fact, determined that the injury happened as a result of the follow-through on Brassard’s pass, wouldn’t that have been a simple explanation for the Coyotes bench? One would think that Tippett’s frustration would be alleviated by knowing it wasn’t a missed call, but a correct call on a situation that didn’t result in a penalty.
Referees for the game were Greg Kimmerly and Steve Kozari. Linesmen were Steve Barton and Scott Cherrey.