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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Jon Cooper Upset with Lightning Disallowed Goals. Maurice Mum



Lightning cooper
Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper, left, and Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice chat following Florida’s 6-1 win in Game 5 of their playoff series on Monday in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

SUNRISE — Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper was obviously not happy his team had two goals disallowed in its Game 5 loss to the Panthers on Monday night.

Florida coach Paul Maurice did not seem to disagree with Cooper’s assessment although, he was, as one would expect, good with it.

On Monday night, the Panthers dispatched the Lightning with a 6-1 win in Game 5, a victory which gave Florida a 4-1 series victory over their arch-rivals.

The game was obviously much closer than the final score would indicate.

Especially if those goals counted.

“There’s mandates, and the words were to pull a goal off the board, it has to be unbelievably egregious,” Cooper said at the end of his postgame press conference, time he allotted to give his rationale on what went down.

“That’s the standard to pull a goal off the board. Well, the first one’s on the board, and I couldn’t find anything remotely egregious about that.”

Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead on the Panthers in the first period on a shot from Anthony Cirelli.

Only former Florida forward Anthony Duclair was tangled up with both Gus Forsling and Sergei Bobrovsky in the crease; Maurice challenged the goal, and after about five minutes of video deliberation, it was taken away.

“There’s mandates, and the words were to pull a goal off the board, it has to be unbelievably egregious,” Cooper said. “That’s the standard to pull a goal off the board. Well, the first one’s on the board, and I couldn’t find anything remotely egregious about that.”

Said Duclair: “It’s very frustrating, but we had plenty of other opportunities to come back. … For myself, I always have the ref screaming in my ear. I thought I was out of the blue paint. I tried my best to be out of the crease, away from the goalie’s hands. Look at the video, I was clearly out of there. It is what it is. It is a judgement call.”

Later in the game with the Panthers up 2-1, Mikhail Sergachev ripped a shot that beat Bobrovsky, who hit the ice before the puck went through after what appeared to be contact with, coincidentally, Cirelli.

That goal was immediately waved off by the officials.

This time, it was Cooper who challenged.

It did not take long for that review to be handed down: No goal, Florida going on the power play.

Had the goal been ruled good on the ice, perhaps it would have stuck.

But with it waved off from the get, the Lightning were behind the proverbial 8-ball.

Cooper did not like either goal dismissal, obviously, but the second one really seemed to irk him and led to some un-PC verbiage.

“Are net front battles not allowed anymore?” Cooper asked.

“That’s part of everybody’s game. The boxing out that goes on out there, it’s like prison rules in the playoffs. But it’s not prison rules for the goalie?

“We might as well put skirts on them if that’s how it’s going to be.”

On Bobrovsky, Cooper said the Florida goalie “quit on the play. He completely quit, didn’t see it … and then flailed. … They saw the reaction of the goaltender and Bob’s doing the right thing and he duped them.”

Certainly the tone of the game would have been different if either of those goals was allowed — especially both of them.

Had both stood, the Lightning would have been up 3-2 in the third period.

Instead, it trailed 2-1 before Sasha Barkov got his second of the night at 11:06 of the third on a bouncing puck in the crease that Matthew Tkachuk deflected off a shot from Carter Verhaeghe.

Florida was feeling it then.

Evan Rodrigues later made it 4-1 before Verhaeghe and Niko Mikkola put pucks in empty nets to make those who happened to take Florida on the puck line (-1.5 goals) and bet the over very happy.

The Panthers ended up blowing out what was a very close game in a series that was much tighter than the 4-1 final.

“Some casual fans will wake up in the morning and be like ‘well, Tampa Bay got blown out’,” Cooper said. “Anyone who follows this game knows that was not the case. There were a lot of things that didn’t go our way tonight, lot of things that didn’t go our way in the series. … I know how fortunate our teams have been when we have won. You make your own breaks.”

Maurice was later asked about Cooper’s comments in his press availability.

He and Cooper are old friends, and, the two spent a considerable amount of time talking on the ice in the postgame handshake line.

Certainly, the disputed calls came up.

So, Paul Maurice, what say you?

After a few measured moments to gather his thoughts, the Florida coach finally answered.

Sort of.

At least he was diplomatic.

After all, Maurice has at least another series to play.

Florida will open up the Eastern Conference semifinals at home sometime soon against either Boston or Toronto.

“I am not a believer that things even out,’’ said Maurice, whose team was called for 24 penalties in the 5-game series to Tampa Bay’s 17.

“But maybe that changes my belief. I don’t believe it all washes out at the end of the year, at all.

“But I feel a little better about my relationship, with everybody.’’

Take ‘em when you can.

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