Islanders polish off Penguins
Marc Bergevin has had enough of the downhill officiating in the NHL, and on Saturday night he wasn’t afraid to talk about it.
“Write what you saw,” the Penguins defenseman said, as reporters entered the dressing room following the Penguins’ 3-2 loss to the Islanders. “It’s a (expletive) farce. This league’s a joke. They change it for what, 10 games, 15 gamesâ¢ I honestly thought it was going to change. It was a rodeo out there. It was unbelievable.”
Bergevin expects a fine from the league and will gladly pay it to let his opinion be heard. He was referring, of course, to the eight penalties called on the Penguins and the five on the Islanders. He was also referring to the 10 that weren’t called, if the ones that were had been an indicator of what was and was not a penalty.
“I’m not trying to take anything away from New York; they played hard. They deserved to win,” Bergevin said. “That’s not what I’m trying to say. But it’s a (expletive) joke. Did you guys see itâ¢ Did you watch the same game I didâ¢ Am I wrong?”
The league’s promised crackdown on obstruction and interference had been in decline for several games. And it wasn’t just with the Penguins. Teams around the league had been commenting over the past two weeks on a belief that the officiating was slipping. But Saturday night’s game seemed to be the most inconsistently officiated game of the Penguins’ season.
The Penguins are now winless in their last five games (0-3-1-1) and fell to 7-5-3-1 on the season. This was their first game back at Mellon Arena after four on the road, and two of the next three are on the road as well.
After calling three penalties in the first period, referees Don Van Massenhoven and Ian Walsh called five in the second – all on the Penguins. They called five total in the third, and both calls against the Penguins were made while they were on the power play. Bergevin was given a gross misconduct at the end of the game when he skated toward the officials yelling. There will be a league review to determine if he will be suspended or not. It was his only penalty of the game.
While most everyone in the Penguins’ locker room felt the same frustration, they were all quick to give credit to the Islanders and goaltender Chris Osgood. He backstopped his team to just their sixth win of the season by stopping 33 shots on goal. Oleg Kvasha gave his team the lead at 7:24 in the first period and Adrian Aucoin got it back with a power-play goal at 17:03. Jason Wiemer padded the lead at 15:46 to make it 3-1. Captain Michael Peca was in the lineup, but played only 7:24 to rest him in the third period.
Even with the penalties they took, the Penguins had enough opportunities to win the game. Their 35 shots on goal were the highest total since their 3-2 win over Atlanta on Oct. 16.
Lemieux brought the Penguins within one with a goal in the final five minutes of the game. It was their first goal since midway through the first period when Alexei Kovalev scored. Osgood stopped the first shot from Aleksey Morozov, but Lemieux got the rebound coming down the left side for his first goal in four games.
“It was a tough game; things just didn’t go our way,” Lemieux said. “We just have to regroup and look forward to the next game. I can’t comment on (the officiating). I wish I could, but I can’t.”
With all the time spent on special teams, the game lacked any kind of flow after the first period. What started out as a promising back-and-forth game deteriorated.
“It just kills the whole momentum of the game,” Lemieux said. “You can’t get your players in there; you’re using pretty much the same guys the whole time. It’s tough to come back from that.”
The Penguins got bad news when defenseman Michal Rozsival left the game with four minutes remaining in the first period. He was nailed by right winger Steve Webb, who came flying across right to left on Rozsival, who was looking away from the hit. He suffered a separated shoulder and Penguins coach Rick Kehoe said he’ll probably be out for a while.
“I’m not commenting on (the game),” Kehoe said. “I’m just not commenting on it. There’s nothing to say. We had more chances tonight than we’ve had in a long time five-on-five and (Osgood) was the difference.”
Karen Price is a former freelancer.