Columnist: Senators getting “jammed” by referees


It’s no secret the Ottawa Senators have had their, ahem, differences with certain NHL officials this season.

Now, one columnist thinks those differences have gone too far.

Don Brennan of QMI Agency writes that ever since Sens coach Paul MacLean said referee Dan O’Rourke told him Erik Karlsson was a diver, Ottawa has gotten the short end of the officiating stick.

Have the Senators been getting jammed by the referees ever since coach Paul MacLean told reporters O’Rourke declared Erik Karlsson guilty of embellishment? Yes. Is it a coincidence that there’s been controversial calls or non-calls favouring the opposition in each of their next three games, all losses? Not likely. Members of the officiating fraternity have each other’s back.

The purported tipping point came during Ottawa’s 4-3 loss to Boston on Tuesday. The Senators were whistled for four penalties, the Bruins none — an eyebrow-raising development given Boston is the league’s most-penalized team.

That penalty-free game came after two controversial calls against Ottawa (both since the MacLean-O’Rourke incident):

— Jan. 23 vs. L.A.: Referees O’Rourke and Tim Peel awarded the Kings a penalty shot even though replays showed the penalty wasn’t warranted.

— Jan, 24 vs. Phoenix: Referees Peel and Dan O’Halloran waved off an apparent third period tying goal by Daniel Alfredsson with a questionable goalie interference call.

If the Senators believe they’re getting shafted by refs, they’re not saying it publicly.

“I respect those guys too much to think anybody would be out to get us,” said Jason Spezza. “They’re trying to do their jobs and they get evaluated, too. I’m sure they’re trying to do their jobs.”

MacLean suggested the recent string of calls was mere coincidence.

“When you play 82 games, and they play 1,500 games or whatever it is in the league, I think there’s going to be curious things happen all the time,” said MacLean. “I don’t have any issue with it.”

This Senators/MacLean/O’Rourke incident is similar to one from Jan. 2010, when Vancouver’s Alex Burrows accused referee Stephane Auger of “getting back at him” for embellishing a penalty a month earlier. After an investigation from then-NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell, Burrows was fined $2,500 for publicly questioning the integrity of an official.

Speaking of the integrity of officials, here’s what ex-referee Kerry Fraser had to say on the Ottawa issue (courtesy

I have had games where one team received all the penalties and their opponents none. Referees do not act as accountants to balance the books. It is not their job to make sure each team receives an equal number of penalties by the end of the game.

This conspiracy theory has gotten way out of hand.

Fraser then went on to say referees take upholding the game’s integrity very seriously.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist
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DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.