Work in Sports
PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Controversy and confusion have turned to mystery and rage for the Buffalo Sabres.
John LeClair scored a phantom goal in the second period as the Philadelphia Flyers posted a 2-1 victory to take a two games to none lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
LeClair's goal actually went through the side of the net to the left of goaltender Dominik Hasek but officials did not see it. The equalizer stood as soon as the puck was dropped at center ice.
"It's embarrassing. That's what it is," Sabres left wing Dixon Ward said. "We can't comment on it because the league has dictated that we're not allowed to. It's frustrating because it was a good hockey game. It has to be marred by something stupid again."
Sabres general manager Darcy Regier verbally abused NHL supervisor John D'Amico and coach Lindy Ruff berated referees after seeing the replay but league rules state that video reviews cannot be used after an ensuing faceoff.
After the game, D'Amico and video goal judge Mike Condon said an "immediate review" of the play, using two camera angles, revealed that it was a "good goal."
They used a regular game action angle and the overhead camera angle but a net camera replay supplied by ESPN was unavailable to D'Amico and Condon.
Several minutes after the goal, D'Amico reviewed the overhead angle again, "and it became apparent, when supported by the net camera angle, that the puck had entered the net on the outside of the post."
"From the replays we saw, the puck appeared to have gone between the post and the pad of Hasek," D'Amico said. "It wasn't until we saw the angle from ESPN that we saw the puck go in from outside of the net."
Last year, in the decisive game of the Stanley Cup Finals against Dallas, the Sabres were burned by the replay rule, which surprisingly was not used on an overtime goal scored by Brett Hull, whose skate was in the crease. That rule since has been modified by the league.
Buffalo had led on a first-period goal by Miroslav Satan before LeClair and Eric Desjardins scored on the power play, helping Philadelphia take a commanding lead into Sunday night's game in Buffalo.
Rookie Brian Boucher made 30 saves to improve to 2-0 lifetime in the playoffs. He stopped 18 shots in Thursday night's 3-2 win.
"I'm just relieved right now," Boucher said. "You like to win the first two games, but it's only two games. We're halfway there."
Hasek, a five-time Vezina Trophy winner as the league's top goaltender, made 25 saves.
Satan scored his second goal of the series 10:40 into the first period when he wrapped a rebound of Jason Woolley's shot around Boucher from in front.
The Sabres scored the only goal of the first and carried the momentum into the second before Keith Jones slammed into Hasek behind the net and was called for boarding.
Buffalo ended up with the man advantage but the Flyers picked up the momentum. Five seconds after killing off Jones' minor, they were awarded a power play of their own when Stu Barnes was called for obstruction tripping.
Philadelphia converted its mystery goal 43 seconds into the power play. Cruising backward toward the right boards, LeClair took a pass from Dan McGillis and rifled a one-timer from the top of the right faceoff circle.
The puck whistled past Hasek's left skate and snuck through the net inches outside the left goalpost. Hasek, who appeared to have the post covered, spun around in amazement as the puck sat in the net.
"I wasn't sure until I saw the hole on the side of the net," Hasek said. "I was surprised that it went in. My glove and my pad were there. I know LeClair had a hard shot, but I was surprised that it went in."
Regier was seen exploding in the officials' box above the ice while Ruff lashed out at referees Rob Shick and Mick McGeough from behind the bench.
"I cannot blame the referees. I don't think it's their mistake," Hasek said. "It's somebody upstairs who should look at the replay. It's frustrating to see that somebody was careless."
Officials tightened the net later in the period. The league added in its postgame statement that, per NHL procedure, before the game and following each period, the net is checked, and that no holes were detected tonight.
Hasek looked flustered midway through the second period. After making a nifty glove save on a one-timer by Mark Recchi while being simultaneously poked by Keith Primeau, he charged the Flyers center and received a penalty.
Desjardins scored the game-winner 4:47 into the third. He kept the puck in the zone with his left skate on a cross-point pass from Recchi and blasted a slap shot high to Hasek's blocker side and inside the left post from the top of the right circle.
"Mark Recchi made a great pass," Desjardins said. "I just got it with my skate and put it in front of me. I had a little time. I looked at the net and I shot it high."
With Flyers fans taunting the superstar goalie with derisive "Ha-sek" chants, the Sabres were unable to tie it. Boucher made one of his best saves with 10:24 to play when he got a pad on a shot from Barnes.