When Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin battled San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels for a puck in overtime of Game 4, he did what many coaches, players and fans would say he should have done. The referees in charge of this series-deciding game disagreed.
Sedin was whistled for boarding, putting the Canucks shorthanded after this play at 13:03 of overtime:
The Sharks' Patrick Marleau scored 15 seconds later to win the game and sweep the series.
On the penalty incident, Wingels landed awkwardly into the boards and went to the locker room for a medical check. Upon further review, the curve of the boards may have worked against him, shortening the space between his collision with Sedin and his crash into the boards.
But the call did not go over well with many observers, including neutrals and even those you would expect to favor the Sharks.
The hometown San Jose broadcasters on Comcast Sportsnet sympathized with the Canucks' fate. Randy Hahn said after the game (when, admittedly, it is easier to be gracious in victory):
"Alain Vigneault, looking back at the referees. He didn't like that call against Sedin, you can't blame him. It was borderline, in overtime, in a playoff game. But it matters not now."
Back in the NBC studio, former NHL player Anson Carter agreed:
"If I'm the Canucks, I'm upset. It was strictly a hockey play, shoulder on shoulder. Be strong on the puck. That's what the coach wants you to do, be strong on the puck and win those one-on-one physical battles. That's what happened there, and it was tough to have the referee make that call that determined the outcome of this hockey game."
After the game ended, Sedin gave it to the refs enough to draw an extra 10-minute misconduct for abuse of officials.
Sharks coach Todd McClellan was asked whether the penalty call on Sedin, particularly in overtime, surprised him.
"No," McClellan said. "We talked about the integrity of officials this morning, and they made a call."
Vigneault too was asked about the call after the game, but didn't bite: "It's the call that the far referee obviously thought was the right call."
The Canucks had clear problems overcoming the Sharks in this series, and a 3-0 deficit is historically almost insurmountable. So, right or wrong, this call may taste bitter now but had little to do with why the Canucks did not get past the first round.