The long-running joke is that the penalty standard changes in the playoffs. Plays that would be a penalty in the regular season don’t get a second glance in the postseason.
Whatever the officials’ interpretation of the rulebook, there’s one automatic penalty that’s always called: delay of game for a puck over the glass.
The Pittsburgh Penguins found themselves on the wrong side of that rule three times late in Tuesday night’s Game 6 against the Washington Capitals.
First it was Chris Kunitz.
Then Nick Bonino, just 1:08 later.
Finally, Ian Cole was busted, just 2:02 after the Kunitz call and 56 seconds after Bonino’s gaffe.
The Caps managed to score just once on the extended advantage, with defensman John Carlson’s blast tying the game at 3-3.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that,” said Phil Kessel.
Three in a game? No, that hadn’t happened all season.
If it were going to happen, though, it not a surprise it would happen to Pittsburgh. The Penguins were tied for second in the league with 14 puck-over-glass penalties, trailing only Boston’s 16.
Here’s the relevant part of the official rule for Delaying the Game (63.2):
When any player, with both of his skates inside his defending zone, shoots or bats (using his hand or his stick) the puck directly (non-deflected) out of the playing surface, except where there is no glass, a penalty shall be assessed for delaying the game. When the puck is shot into the players’ bench, the penalty will not apply. When the puck is shot over the glass ‘behind’ the players’ bench, the penalty will be assessed.
Down Goes Brown made a rather compelling argument for changing the rule to treat inadvertent pucks over the glass just like icings – something we’ve pushed for in the past.
“You almost have to laugh sometimes in situations like that,” said Pens captain Sidney Crosby. “Once you get that time to kind of let everything sink in, you realize you’ve still got a great opportunity. It maybe didn’t feel like that considering the situation you had initially. You just have to find a way to pull together.”
Penguins did just that. Weathering the storm – and the lone powerplay goal scored by the Capitals on the extended two-man advantage – to win the game, and the series, in overtime.