Kings beat Blue Jackets 3-2 at the buzzer; should the game have gone to OT?

Under their new coach, the Blue Jackets have shown new life. And while they aren't winning any more than they did under Arniel, Wednesday's game against the Kings was tight and exciting, especially in the third. To judge the intensity of the final minutes, you wouldn't have thought that it was the worst team in the NHL vs. a Western playoff contender.

And if you tuned in to NHL Tonight, and hadn't watched the game, you might be impressed that the Kings pulled out a win with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock. But that's not the whole story of the Kings' win.

LA got on the board at 8:40 of the first; Columbus tied it up early in the second. Then LA took the lead again at 14:32 in the second; Columbus tied it up again at 4:52 in the third. The Kings went to the penalty box at 10:58 in the third, but the Jackets couldn't break the tie. With just 1:06 left in the game, Columbus took a holding penalty, and from there, it was a fierce battle to the finish as the Kings sought to put them away on the power play.

There was a mad scramble at the net, and then with seemingly no time on the clock, Drew Doughty was throwing his arms up in triumph even as one ref was throwing their arms out to indicate no goal and the other was pointing to the goal.

So which should it have been - good goal or no?

Watch the replay and pay special attention to the clock. (source: LA Kings site)

 

It turns out the ref who called it "no goal" should - should - have been right. Watch the clock in the top left corner - and notice that it hangs up at 1.8 seconds for full second. With the Kings scoring with just 0.4 seconds left, if the clock had not lagged - or been stopped briefly - the goal would not have counted; it would have come after the buzzer.

Here's another view from the overhead camera. (CBJ feed/Fox Ohio)

 

 

This time glitch was noticed and reported by both Fox Ohio (CBJ) and Fox West (LA Kings) as the goal was being reviewed in Toronto, and the time glitch is visible on both feeds. But it was clear that the decision in Toronto was simply about "did the goal pass over the line before the clock ran out?", not whether the arena clock was functional or not.

As hockey fans across the league discussed the play on Twitter, Columbus fans certainly had every right to feel angry for getting robbed. Had the game gone to overtime, who can say that the Kings still would have won?

If both of these teams were in a fight for a playoff position, would they have paid closer attention to the clock? Surely, it would be assumed that if this were a playoff game, and not just a regular season game, that absolutely, the time glitch would have been noticed, and that goal would have been disallowed, and the teams would have pushed on to overtime.

While it might not make a difference to the Blue Jackets' playoff chances at this time, we have to look back no further than the last day of the 2010-11 season to see what a difference even a single point can make - or the number of wins. Last spring, three teams in the West crossed the finish line with 99 points; but Anaheim won the tiebreakers to be the only one of those teams with home-ice advantage. Additionally, if Dallas had won game 82 vs. the Wild, they would have been the team facing off against Vancouver in the first round due to the tiebreakers they held over Chicago. But they couldn't pull out the points needed to make the playoffs.

Points matter. Overtime vs. shootout wins matter. Isn't that the point of having the neutral review room in Toronto? In a game decided in a split second with a clear clock malfunction/pause, shouldn't it matter, no matter who's playing, whether they're bottom of the barrel or top of the heap?

There's plenty of people who were quick to point out on Twitter, "Who cares if CBJ got any points, Columbus isn't in playoff contention this season." This is true; the Blue Jackets would have to win their season out just to make the playoffs.

But the two points (vs. one) or the fact it was won in regulation is something that could come back to make a difference for the Kings - or another team. If the Kings manage to do well enough to pull themselves further up in the standings, one point or a non-shootout win could make the difference between home ice advantage and slogging extra miles in the playoffs. It could also make the difference between 8th and 9th place - in other words, making the playoffs or not.

Worth noting, also: Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period, who was in LA for the tilt, asked around post-goal, and tweeted the following tidbit of information after the game:

"watch the clock next time at Kings game. Stops all the time. Nothing unusual."

We live in an age when we carry supercomputer phones in our pockets that allow us to communicate with anybody, anywhere, instantaneously. Surely a professional sports team would have an arena clock that works properly. Right?

It's highly unlikely that the NHL will do anything to change this particular loss; what could they do? Are there even any rules that cover this? One might look at the following NHL rules:

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34.7 Verification of Time - Any loss of time on the game or penalty clocks due to a false face-off must be replaced as appropriate. The Video Goal Judge may be consulted to ensure the time is accurately replaced.

In the event of any dispute regarding time, the matter shall be referred to the Referees for adjudication and their decision shall be final. They may use the Video Goal Judge to assist in rendering their final decision. (See Rule 38 – Video Goal Judge.) The Game Timekeeper shall assist to verify game time using an additional timing device (League-approved stopwatch).

38.1 General Duties – The following are the general duties of the Video Goal Judge:

(ii)  He will review replays of disputed goals when he observes an incident that was undetected by on-ice officials.
 
38.4 Situations Subject to Video Review - The following situations are subject to review by the Video Goal Judge:

(vii)  To establish the correct time on the official game clock, provided the game time is visible on the Video Goal Judge’s monitors.

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There's a number of rules meant to verify that time is accurate for games, even down to fractions of seconds. But once the reviews are made and the calls are announced on the ice, they stand.

How was this goal reviewed for its timing, while the time glitch was completely overlooked? Whoever reviewed the shot would have had to watch the overhead camera angle for clear verification of timing, and on that angle, the clock - and its pause at 1.8 seconds - is clearly visible.

If nothing else, the NHL needs to investigate the Kings' timekeeping equipment, and verify/ensure that it is functioning properly, every game. In a sport where games can be won or loss in a split second, and especially as the playoffs approach, it is unacceptable for a professional team's official timekeeping device to "stop all the time" and to have that kind of error be "nothing unusual".

Columbus can't get this one back; but the NHL and the LA Kings can ensure that this kind of error doesn't happen again.
 

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Updated 2/2, 4pm - per TSN's Darren Dreger, "The NHL is investigating why the clocked stopped last night in LA. Regardless of findings, the outcome of the game stands."

Obviously, that won't affect the standings today - and hopefully, this one game has no bearing on the final standings for the season - but clearly, it is something that needs to be corrected in Los Angeles ASAP.

Comments

George Prax's picture

Definitely sounds like there's some funny business going on here. Part of me wants to say... who cares, it's just the Blue Jackets? But that's obviously besides the point Tongue (no pun intended).