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The Maple Leafs had to play a man down for 7 minutes due to an obscure NHL rule

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Mike Babcock gambled and almost lost due to his personnel choice.

The Toronto Maple Leafs killed a nearly seven-minute Blue Jacket power play en route to their 5-2 victory on Wednesday. Five-minute majors are a rare occurrence in the NHL, but a seven-minute PK is unheard of.

Especially considering they should have only had to kill five minutes.

Stay with me here, but we’ll break it down.

In the opening minute of the third period, Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand and received a five-minute major and game misconduct for his trouble.

That penalty put Columbus on the power play, but Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock elected to keep an additional penalty killer out on the bench instead of in the box.

Seriously, that’s a rule. Straight from the NHL Rulebook, Rule 20.3 on substitution to be exact:

When a player has been assessed a major penalty and has been removed from the game or is injured, the offending team does not have to place a substitute player on the penalty bench immediately, but must do so at a stoppage of play prior to the expiration of the major penalty.

...

Failure to place a player on the penalty bench prior to the expiration of the major penalty will result in that team having to continue playing one player short (but not officially considered shorthanded) until the next stoppage of play.

So because there was no stoppage during the five-minute major, the Maple Leafs were forced to continue to play a man down.

It becomes painfully obvious when, after the power play clock expires, no one steps out onto the ice to even the field.

Still only four players!

It wasn’t until Brian Boyle threw the puck into the Blue Jackets’ bench almost TWO MINUTES LATER that the Maple Leafs were able to put on an additional player.

Toronto was extremely lucky not to have been scored on during the additional time, as Columbus was pressing the advantage for almost the entire two minutes.