Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour was both miffed and bewildered about how the officials handled the Boston Bruins' second goal in Boston's double-overtime victory over Carolina in the opener of the first-round playoff series Wednesday.
"This is why the league's a joke, in my opinion, on these things," Brind'Amour told The News and Observer's Luke DeCock. "That one is a crime scene."
Charlie Coyle gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead less than five minutes into the second period. However, earlier in the play, Boston's Nick Ritchie appeared to hit the puck out of midair with his glove. Bruins forward Anders Bjork then dislodged it from under Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek's glove, and Coyle deposited the puck into a virtually open net.
The Hurricanes challenged the play, citing Ritchie's hand pass, according to DeCock.
Referee Chris Lee said Mrazek had possession, thereby negating the hand pass and serving as an admission that the on-ice crew initially incorrectly deemed it a goal after not blowing the whistle when the netminder closed his glove on the puck.
However, Brind'Amour said postgame that neither Lee nor fellow referee Francis Charron would elaborate about the call on the ice, making the bench boss unsure about which aspect of the play to challenge.
"They came to me, and I said, "If he has possession of it then it's goalie interference. If he doesn't have possession then it's a hand pass," Brind'Amour said. "It's one of the two. I don't know what you're calling on the ice. All he has to do is tell me. 'We're calling it non-possession (by Mrazek),' then we're challenging a glove-hand pass. If it's possession, then goaltender interference. I said, 'Tell me the call on the ice.' They wouldn't do it when I (said), 'What is the call?' So, I had to flip a coin."
The head coach continued: "I said, 'What was the call on the ice?' and he said, 'You've got to call one or the other.' It should be so easy. If they said the goalie had it, then it's an easy call. They wouldn't tell you. It makes no sense. I know we weren't the better team, but if that goal doesn't go in, do we win that game? I don't know."
The NHL later fined Brind'Amour $25,000 for his remarks. It also issued a conditional fine for the same amount, which the league will collect in addition to future discipline if it deems him to display "similar inappropriate behavior" through Aug. 12, 2021.
The league's official stance was that the netminder had possession.
"Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek controlled the puck prior to Charlie Coyle's goal, which nullified the potential hand pass," it said in its explanation.
Officials assessed Carolina with a minor penalty for the failed review but Hurricanes winger Brock McGinn scored 21 seconds later to tie the game.
Bruins star Patrice Bergeron netted the winner 73 seconds into double overtime.