The Pittsburgh Penguins finally broke through on the power play in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, with an Evgeni Malkin goal set up by a San Jose penalty that some called a ‘flop’ by Pittsburgh forward Eric Fehr.

With the Penguins leading 1-0, looking to go up 3-1 in the series, a pivotal penalty was called on San Jose’s Melker Karlsson.  The Sharks’ winger was sent to the box for interference against the Pens’ Fehr.

It took just nine seconds for the Penguins to convert, with Evgeni Malkin deflecting a Phil Kessel pass past San Jose goaltender Martin Jones to give his club a 2-0 lead.  Malkin’s goal, his first of the series,  would eventually stand as the game-winner.

After the game, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer was asked about the call.

Q: The penalty on Melker that led to the goal, looked like the guy kind of flopped. How did you see it?

COACH DeBOER: Well, probably the same way you did.

Following a faceoff win by Joe Thornton, Karlsson and Fehr – aligned to Thornton’s right – raced for the puck. Fehr had a step on Karlsson. The two got tangled up and Fehr went down.

Both referees – Wes McCauley and Kelly Sutherland – immediately put their arms up to call a penalty.  There’s no arguing that both guys were on the same page when it came to the standard of interference on this play. 

This angle offes a bit more as to why Fehr went down the way he did.  While the bulk of the interference is up high, you can see Karlsson’s right skate hit the back of Fehr’s left.   That was enough to knock him off balance and send him down to the ice.  It’s also why, to some, it looked like Fehr flopped. 

Fehr was not penalized for diving or embellishment this season or last, so he doesn’t have a track record of doing so in the past.

Despite two opportunities of their own, the Sharks were unable to convert on the power play in Monday night’s game.  Both teams are now 1-for-8 on the power play in the series, each averaging two chances per game.  

DeBoer didn’t put too much stock in the significance of power plays in the Stanley Cup Final.

“That wasn’t the difference in the game tonight,” DeBoer said after the game. “I think the special teams battle has been fairly even in the series. I don’t think that’s been the deciding factor either way for either team.”

Sure, no team has had a distinct advantage this series on special teams.  In Game 4, though, Malkin’s power play goal made all the difference.