Three times the officials rule against the Buffalo Sabres on goal decisions which could have gone either way, costing them the chance to earn at least one point.
Through no fault of their own, the Dallas Stars are responsible for arguably the most heartbreaking and controversial moment in Buffalo Sabres‘ history. Just saying the phrase “No Goal“, is almost guaranteed to result in sports fans in Western New York becoming angry, sad, reaching for an alcoholic beverage, or some combination all three.
Now of course, no one is suggesting Thursday night is anywhere near that level. Regardless, the Stars were once again the opponent on a frustrating evening for the Sabres and their fans.
Three times, the Sabres were denied the opportunity to leave Texas with at least one point. Three times, the officials ruled in favor of the home team on decisions which could have gone either way.
Now, you could argue the Sabres only have themselves to blame, after taking an early 2-0 lead and then conceding four consecutive goals. Further, some might say they were already pushing their luck, after winning three straight overtime games.
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However, it doesn’t change what happened on Thursday night, as the law of averages were nowhere to be seen. As a result, the Sabres’ admittedly tenuous playoff challenge suffered a frustrating blow.
The last of the three incidents came with just 11 seconds remaining in the game, when Ryan O’Reilly‘s shot hit Kari Lehtonen on the goal line, before bouncing away. At the time it was ruled no goal (sorry, sorry) and was only reviewed after the final buzzer, when the replay officials upheld the original call.
Now, if we’re being objective about this, it’s tough to definitively rule either way. Let’s put it this way, if the original call had been that it was a goal, the officials would have similarly been likely to uphold that decision.
Even Sabres’ coach Dan Bylsma admitted it wasn’t clear cut whether or not it was a goal. Speaking to WGR550 afterwards, he said: “It’s not super clear, I guess, in saying where the puck ends up. It sits on the side of his pants.
“At least on the view it’s on the right side of the crossbar. I think the answer is, I don’t definitively know that it crossed the whole goal line. I think we all can see it past the crossbar…that’s the answer.”
Sabres’ captain Brian Gionta also discussed O’Reilly’s shot with WGR550: “It looks like it’s sitting on his hip, it’s past the crossbar. I’m not sure if that’s a goal line angle or not, but it’s sitting on top of his hip, on top of his pad, which looks to be in the net but you don’t see the goal line.”
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While the inconclusive nature of the incident makes it tough to blame the officials, the same can’t be said for Sam Reinhart‘s backhand, with 8:54 left in the final period. The puck definitely crossed the line and should have tied the game.
As Bylsma said: “There’s no question the puck ends up in the net. It’s unrefutable, it’s there. It’s in the net, everyone can see that.”
Reinhart similarly had no doubts it should have been a goal: “I don’t know if it was tough to see on video or what, but it was 100 percent over the line. It’s a tough one.”
Ultimately of course, nothing can be done now about the final scoreline, and the Sabres enter the All-Star break seven points out of the final playoff spot in the East. Just don’t expect them to forget this game anytime soon.
Speaking to John Vogl of The Buffalo News, Jack Eichel said: “It’s just unfortunate that you have a chance to go into the break with four straight wins. We think we played a good game and get no points out of it.”
Whether you’re a Sabres’ fan or not, whats your perspective on the game against the Stars? Do you think they were robbed, or do they only have themselves to blame for not leaving Dallas with at least one point? Share your thoughts in the comments section.