Goal or no goal?: Refs count Chris Kunitz’s tally after lengthy review

There are plenty of situations in which fans second-guess referees and NHL executives. Any hook, slash or whatever other infraction (or improper call) can drive biased parties batty.

Yet the times when these debates rest under the spotlight come when a goal goes under review, especially in the case of the dreaded “intent to blow” loophole. It seems like every league has its own fan-frustrating rule; who can forget the controversy over the NFL’s “tuck rule” when a Tom Brady fumble was called back?

Who knows what the real story was behind tonight’s big goal under review, but the bottom line is that the officials/video crew in Toronto decided to award a Chris Kunitz power-play goal that was originally disallowed. That tally gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 lead they would later cough up to the Carolina Hurricanes after Jussi Jokinen scored, which perhaps will limit the amount of controversy. Ultimately, the game came down to a shootout won by the Pens, but it was still a pretty big goal at the time.

Check out the goal below and decide for yourself if it was the right call. Did it seem like the official was about to blow the whistle (or “intended” to blow it) before the puck crossed the goal line? Could it be that the officials/league were influenced by the fact that Penguins fans could see replays without the intent-to-blow context? Let us know in the comments.

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.