PITTSBURGH — Given all that transpired on Monday night, there were plenty of topics to discuss in the aftermath of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Yet one seemed to rise above the rest.
P.K. Subban’s disallowed goal in the first period — wiped out after Pens head coach Mike Sullivan successfully challenged that Filip Forsberg was offside — was a huge talking point, with several Predators pressed for their thoughts on the matter.
“It never deflated us,” captain Mike Fisher said, when asked if the call took the wind out of Nashville’s sails. “We’ve had that happen twice in one game [versus Anaheim in the Western Conference final].
“It doesn’t change our mindset, but it’s unfortunate — we thought it was a goal. What do you do? From there, we played solid. We just didn’t find that way to win.”
While Fisher said all the right things, it’s hard to suggest the call didn’t have a profound impact on the eventual 5-3 Penguins victory. The Subban goal seemed a just reward for Nashville after a good start, yet it was taken off the board under somewhat dubious circumstances, depending who you ask. (On social media, arguments are still ongoing as to whether video review showed conclusive evidence that Forsberg was offside.)
Fisher’s coach admitted the call changed the tone.
“The impact of that moment, and the chain of events that happened after that — the penalty kills, I think, changed the course of the game,” Peter Laviolette said. “[But] I thought our guys played well, from start to finish. I thought we played a good game. We hate the score, we hate the result, but we move forward.”
There’s another interesting angle in all this. The Pens certainly reaped the benefits from the overturned goal, and not just because it dug them out of a hole. PPG Paints Arena roared with approval upon hearing the announcement — the in-house video board quickly fired up one of those noise meter things — and, shortly thereafter, Pittsburgh exploded for three goals in a 4:11 span.
It was a turning point in a game filled with them. Afterward, Sullivan took time to praise video coordinator Andy Saucier, who was responsible for spearheading the challenge.
“He does a great job,” Sullivan said. “He’s smart. I think he has a really good eye for some of the challenges versus the no challenges. Those timeouts are really important, so we don’t want to use that challenge frivolously. We’re trying to be calculated about it. We’ve sat as a coaching staff at the beginning of the season, and we discussed the criteria so that we’re all on the same page. Sauce does a terrific job for us.”