Stanley Cup: Lightning coach Cooper questions validity of winning goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning’s quest for a third straight Stanley Cup championship is perilously close to ending, due in part to a goal that coach Jon Cooper believes should not have counted.

Nazem Kadri’s overtime goal in Wednesday’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final put the Colorado Avalanche at a decided 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series, though an emotional Cooper implied during the post-game media conference the Avalanche had an extra skater on the ice at the time of the deciding tally.

"This one is going to sting much more than others,” Cooper said of the Lightning’s 3-2 loss. "It's going to be hard for me to speak. I'll speak with you [Thursday]. You're going to see what I mean when you see the winning goal."

Cooper did not answer any additional questions, stopping the conference just over two minutes in.

The NHL's official scoresheet had six skaters listed on the ice for Kadri’s game-winner, which occurred 12:02 into overtime, but later said in a statement the discrepancy could have been due to players jumping off the bench to celebrate the goal.

Too many men on the ice penalties are not able to be reviewed under league replay rules.

"A too many men on the ice penalty is a judgment call that can be made by any of the four on-ice officials," NHL Hockey Operations said in the statement.

"Following the game, Hockey Operations met with the four officials as is their normal protocol. In discussing the winning goal, each of the four officials advised that they did not see a too many men on the ice situation on the play.

"This call is not subject to video review either by Hockey Ops or the on-ice officials."

Cooper began his brief news conference lauding his players’ resolve for reaching a third consecutive Cup Final in a salary-cap era before alluding to his disapproval to the no-call on Kadri’s goal.

"I've been part of some heartbreaking losses and defeats to the teams that took us out, and been with a group that just fights, fights and fights," he said.

"And they fought their way to a third Stanley Cup Final in a row. And in a cap era when it’s so damn hard and the rules are put against you because the league wants parity.

“My heart breaks for the players, because we should probably still be playing.”

The series now shifts back to Denver for Friday’s Game 5, in which the Avalanche will attempt to clinch the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title since 2001.

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