NSH-MIN

About that controversial OT faceoff penalty from the Minnesota-Nashville game…

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One of the stranger calls of this young NHL season occurred during overtime of Minnesota’s 2-1 victory over Nashville on Saturday.

About halfway through the extra session, Preds center Paul Gaustad was given a two-minute delay of game/faceoff violation minor for “batting” the puck with his glove.

This, of course, is a direct violation of one of the new faceoff rules for this season — No. 76.4, which prohibits players from playing the puck with their hands.

The Wild proceeded to score (and win) on the ensuing power play, much to the chagrin of the Predators, who protested the call vehemently.

The protestations were based partly on the puck drop of linesman Ryan Galloway — here’s a GIF of the incident, courtesy the Nashville Examiner:

Hardly a textbook draw, given the bounce (though it’s not like he Gronkowski’d the puck.) The bigger issue was the subsequent penalty call, which seemed harsh given the game was in overtime.

Following the contest, The Tennessean asked the NHL’s Situation Room for clarification on the call, which garnered this response:

The referee deemed that rule 76.4 applied because as it reads “Both players facing-off are prohibited from batting the puck with their hand in an attempt to win the face-off.”

That rule applied because the puck was batted by Paul Gaustad’s left glove off the face off.

Now, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser has weighed in on the call:

Even though I have attempted to provide a reasonable explanation as to why the linesman felt Gaustad’s actions resulted in a hand pass, I do not believe this interpretation to be correct. 

In observance of the spirit and intent of Rule 76.4, I deem that incidental contact of the puck resulted to the back of Gaustad’s glove from his natural hand motion in an attempt to win the draw and that a face-off violation did not occur on this play.

There was no deliberate attempt by the Nashville center to play the puck with his hand.

Fraser then explains the best course of action would’ve been for to blow the play dead, reset the clock and re-do the faceoff.

Issues with the new faceoff rules are popping up throughout the league. In Washington, players told NBC Channel 4 they’ve had a hard time adjusting to the new regulations.

Matt Hendricks said he’s noticed referees are calling faceoff penalties “pretty strongly” this season, while Jay Beagle said he was lucky to avoid getting called for one earlier this season.

“There was one instance, I actually tried to grab it and swing it back with my hand and missed,” he explained. “I was thankful for that.

“After that, I was like, ‘Gee, I gotta watch it.'”

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.