Hauled down by Nikita Kucherov as he wheeled behind his own net in search of a play up ice, Charlie McAvoy could only watch from the seat of his pants as the Bruins turned the puck over in their own zone. It was a disastrous turn, as Lightning captain Steven Stamkos hammered a one-timer by Tuukka Rask for the game-tying goal in the third period.
Lightning get away with a hold, Stamkos ties the game pic.twitter.com/VCrepEpP11— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 5, 2018
It found a way to sting even worse when the B’s couldn’t answer before the Bolts added another, too, as a 4-3 overtime loss Friday has put the Bruins on elimination’s door heading back to Tampa Bay for Sunday’s do-or-die Game 5.
And after the game, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy knew exactly what the first question was going to be about.
“Seem to be going down this road a lot lately in these things, about the non-calls,” Cassidy said. “It looked like [Kucherov] reached around, pulled [McAvoy] down. Charlie’s a strong guy, but it wasn’t called, and it’s in our net, and that’s that. There was nothing you can do about it after; you’ve got to keep playing, and we did.
“But they made the first play in overtime.”
McAvoy, meanwhile, wanted almost no part of harping on the officials. To a point.
“I don’t have anything to say about the officiating,” McAvoy said.
[Narrator: He did have something to say about the officiating.]
“It’s horrible,” McAvoy said of his team’s situation in and following Game 4. “We’re up 3-2 in that game, we’re playing well, and they’re able to tie it up on that play and the rest is history.”
Asked for a refresher on the ‘history,’ which is of course the most important thing in this game, McAvoy went on.
“I came around the net, [Zdeno Chara] was yelling, ‘wheel,’ so I’m coming around trying to get my feet moving to make a play, and I wasn’t able to,” McAvoy offered. “You guys can have it up to interpretation.
“I know what I feel, but I’m not gonna comment on it.”
Well, did McAvoy get an explanation from the officials at the very least?
“No [explanation], nothing,” McAvoy said with a borderline laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation and lack of an explanation. “They don’t have anything to say about it. They just… it is what it is.”
Bruins winger Brad Marchand, who felt cheated was he was not awarded a penalty shot (or at the very least a power-play opportunity) when slashed by Anton Stralman on a breakaway in the closing moments of Game 2 in Tampa Bay, was far more open when asked about the non-call.
“It was a very blatant grab on Chuckie’s shoulder,” Marchand said. “[It] turned into a goal. The missed calls that are costing goals and games… it’s unfortunate that they can’t get it right, so hopefully they can fix that.”
But yet again, McAvoy and the Bruins will do their part to put this behind them and put their best foot forward.
“Our backs are against the wall, so we just gotta go play,” McAvoy said. “We can’t think about anything else at this point. It’s been really unfortunately, but we can’t put it in anybody else’s hands.
“We just gotta play hockey, so we’ll go in Tampa with the expectation to win a hockey game.”