It’s been a challenging year for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.
If there’s one area where Sullivan has had a better time than his football counterpart in town, though, it’s on video replay challenges.
While Tomlin has famously gone 0 for 4 on challenges this season, Sullivan has made three successful challenges in a row to improve to 4-2 on the year.
On Saturday night, the Penguins successfully called for a review of a Tyler Toffoli goal in the second period and went on to win by the narrowest of margins, 4-3 in overtime over the Los Angeles Kings.
Replays showed Kings forward Adrian Kempe was a step offside entering the zone before the goal was scored.
In the NHL system, unsuccessful offside challenges are punished by a two-minute penalty, so Sullivan was taking a fairly significant risk by making the call.
He did so because he was comfortable taking the advice of video coach Andy Saucier, whose correct offside challenge in Game 6 of the 2016 Eastern Conference finals in Tampa just might have won the Penguins a Stanley Cup.
“I think Sauce is an all-star,” Sullivan said. “He’s really good at what he does. He’s terrific at breaking down those situations because we don’t get a good enough look on the bench.”
Sullivan said he and the coaching staff set up a system for deciding whether to challenge calls before the season started.
Saucier watches the game on multiple video screens and usually makes a recommendation on offside calls. Goalie coach Mike Buckley watches from the press box and often gives his opinion on goalie interference calls.
“Ultimately, I have to make the decision about whether we’re going to take the risk associated with those types of decisions, but I have the utmost faith and trust in Sauce and what he sees,” Sullivan said. “I just think he’s an all-star.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.