Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for voicing his frustrations to the officials after an unpenalized hit that injured defenseman Cale Makar.
With Colorado on the power play, Makar headed back to the defensive end to retrieve the puck. As he neared the boards, he was bumped by Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo. The contact sent Makar crashing awkwardly into the boards.
There was no penalty on the play, with referee Graham Skilliter right on top of the play.
Makar was helped off the ice; he would later return to the game.
Frustrated by the non-call, MacKinnon shared his feelings with Skilliter and the second referee, T.J. Luxmore. His comments were enough to earn him a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct along with a ten-minute misconduct penalty.
While MacKinnon did not speak after the game, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar discussed the penalty.
“There’s frustration out of our team because that [penalty] wasn’t called,” Bednar said. “[Makar is] obviously a key player for us.”
“You get a little frustrated and you have a few things to say. I’d just like the officials to have thicker skin in that spot. You know they may have missed one or decided not to call it – whatever it is. I think you’ve got to take a little bit of harsh feedback in that situation without doling out a ten-[minute misconduct].
“If it carries on and carries on, then that’s a different story. That’s my issue.”
Avs forward Mikko Rantanen also weighed in on the hit.
“I don’t know why there’s no penalty. It’s pretty obvious, I think,” said Rantanen. “I get called every time I do that even if it’s not high speed like that. I don’t know what the refs saw there.”
The Avs managed to kill off the penalty, but still trailed 3-0 when the teams returned to even strength. Having MacKinnon sidelined for ten more minutes didn’t help.
The Buffalo Sabres went on to win the game 4-0. Referees were Graham Skilliter (#24) and T.J. Luxmore (#21), with linespersons James Tobias (#61) and Caleb Apperson (#77).