Lightning coach Jon Cooper is looking to move forward after his comments following Tampa Bay’s Game 4 loss Wednesday in the Stanley Cup Final stirred controversy.
“Did [Colorado] get the better of us in overtime? There’s no question they did,” said Cooper during Thursday’s media availability. “But this is a game of breaks. Often times you make them, sometimes you get them. Colorado is up 3-1 in this series because they’ve made a lot of breaks. … Good on them. That’s what happens when you make them. The game-winner is an unfortunate non-call. That’s how you get breaks.”
“It’s the way the game is, and you can’t pout about it. You turn the page and move on, let’s go. So that mountain’s a little bit higher. At least we’re still climbing. We’re not out.”
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Cooper’s post-game comments Wednesday night lasted two minutes, taking one question before exiting. He spent that time mostly deferring his comments to Thursday’s press conference, insinuating that Nazem Kadri’s game-winning overtime goal should not have counted because the Colorado Avalanche had too many men on the ice.
“You’re going to see what I mean when you see the winning goal,” Cooper said Wednesday night. “And my heart breaks for the players because we probably still should be playing.”
The Lightning are no strangers to playing from behind during this playoff run. Tampa Bay was down 3-2 in the opening round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, winning a Game 7 on the road to move on. Tampa Bay lost the first two games to the New York Rangers in the conference finals before winning four straight games to secure a Stanley Cup berth.
“If there’s one team that can do it, it’s this team,” said Lightning forward Pat Maroon.
The NHL released a statement after the game defending the referees’ no-call. The statement noted that too many men on the ice penalties are discretionary calls not subject to video review.
“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,” said the statement.
Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar shared a similar sentiment during Thursday’s media availability. Bednar noted that line shifts like the one on the play happen all the time in hockey.
“That’s part of the game,” said Bednar. “It’s a fluid game. You’re changing on the fly, everything happens. You look at the clip, you back that clip up — and I did multiple times already to see what exactly what they were talking about — and Tampa’s got two guys jumping on with their D coming off the ice from a zone away. I count 7-6 at one point. So that is what it is. That’s the way the game is played. I don’t see it as a break or a non-break. I actually see it as nothing.”
The Lightning will fight for their playoff lives in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in Denver on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.