Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was frustrated with the officials after spending the equivalent of one full period on special teams.
“Let’s just say I questioned a fair amount of the calls,” Sullivan said after the game.
The calls, they were a-plenty. Referees Ghislain Hebert and Dan O’Rourke handed out 28 penalty minutes on 13 infractions – eight of those against the Pens. Ottawa spent 15:26 with the man advantage, while the Pens had 6:54 of extra-man ice-time.
“It’s pretty tough to assess a game like that when half of the game is special teams. There was no flow to it. There was no five-on-five. It was ridiculous,” added Sullivan. “When you’re spending a third of a game on the penalty kill, it puts an awful lot of burden on you.”
Compounding Sullivan’s frustration with the calls was Ottawa’s success on the power play. The Sens scored more power play goals in one game than they have in over a decade, going 4-for-9.
Sullivan wasn’t the only one frustrated.
“I took a penalty on my first shift of the game,” said Pittsburgh’s Jason Zucker, who was whistled for holding Ottawa’s Claude Giroux just 45 seconds into the game. “We’ve got to stay out of the box. We put our penalty kill in a really tough spot. It started with me and it just carried through.”
A potential Ottawa icing went uncalled, drawing the ire of the Pens’ bench. Defenseman Mark Friedman played the puck after it crossed the goal line with no whistle — until a penalty was drawn moments later.
Pens forward Bryan Rust was called for hooking Ottawa’s Tim Stutzle. “He dives!” Rust yelled at the referee — who promptly issued him an additional two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. It’s not clear what else may have been said to the official.
No penalty was called on Stutzle for embellishment, though the league does review all plays to issue fines to players who dive or embellish infractions.
While many of the calls were legit, The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reports that the penalty that frustrated players the most was the minor penalty for cross-checking issued to Pittsburgh’s Pierre-Olivier Joseph at 9:10 of the third period. Ottawa scored the go-ahead goal on the ensuing power play.
“It was one of those nights where everything was getting called,” said Pittsburgh’s Mark Friedman, as reported by The Athletic. “I didn’t like the penalty I took. It was selfish. Jab after the whistle. I didn’t need to do it. … We need to try and do everything we can to stay out of the ref’s head.”
Late in the game, Sullivan chose the alternative, offering up a golf clap when the officials whistled Ottawa for too-many-men penalty with 8:30 to play in the third period. Pittsburgh’s Rickard Rakell tied the game on the resulting man advantage.
The Ottawa Senators won the game 5-4 in overtime. Referees were Dan O’Rourke (#9) and Ghislain Hebert (#22), with linesmen Scott Cherrey (#50) and Jonny Murray (#95).