Overturned goals hamper the Tampa Bay Lightning at the end of the season

Tampa Bay coach John Cooper strongly criticized goaltender interference calls that went against his team in its Game 5 loss to the Florida Panthers, which eliminated the Lightning from the Stanley Cup playoffs on Monday night.

“Obviously this is a turning point in the game,” Cooper said after the 6-1 loss to Florida. “If anyone is going to talk about this game, they are going to talk about the goals that were disallowed.” Two empty goals for the Panthers.

The first goalie interference review was a coach's challenge initiated by Florida in the 13th minute of the first half. A video review determined that Tampa Bay's Anthony Duclair impaired Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky's ability to play his position in the crease prior to Anthony Cirelli's goal.

Cooper felt Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling was holding Duclair on the play.

“You've seen our reaction. It's just one of those… it's very frustrating,” Duclair said. “The ref is always yelling in my ear. I thought I was out of the blue paint. When you look at the video, obviously I was out of there. That's what it is, it's a ref's call.”

The goaltender's second tackle occurred at 17:48 of the second period, with the goal immediately disallowed when officials said Cirelli made accidental contact with Bobrovsky while fighting with defenseman Niko Mikkola. Tampa Bay challenged the call, but it was upheld upon video review.

“Obviously it's bad. But our job is to go out there and keep fighting and try to get the next goal. When you think you have a goal and things go the other way, you back off a little bit. But that's not the case.” “It doesn't matter. You go out there and keep playing,” Cirelli said.

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Cooper felt Bobrovsky embellished the play.

“I will give credit to the goalkeeper,” Cuper said. “He completely retired. I didn't see him. He stumbled and there was probably an accidental contact at most. But now we have to challenge that because they saw the goalkeeper's reaction.” . “Bob is doing the right thing. He fooled them. So be it. But we have to face this challenge.”

Cooper felt that the spirit of the goalie interference rule was not violated in either game.

“In this league, goals are very important. All we did was set rules to score more goals. Every year, there seems to be something we adjust so that there is more goal scoring. That's great. But there are mandates. The words he said: “ “If a goal is taken off the board, it must be incredibly terrible.”

Cooper also felt that both plays indicated officials overprotecting goaltenders during battles in front of the net.

“Are fights in front of the net not allowed anymore? That's part of everyone's game. The boxing that goes on there is like prison rules in the qualifiers. But it's not prison rules for goalkeepers? Maybe we'll put skirts on them then, if he says, 'This is how it's going to be.'” “They have to fight through things too. It's a war over there. I think we're letting the goalkeepers off the hook. “And they have a lot more platforms than anyone else.”

Cooper reiterated that he doesn't think the calls cost the Lightning the series, but that they changed the momentum in the game.

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“This is just my opinion. I felt it was a little unfair. In the playoffs, how can you let these things get away from us?” he asked.

The Panthers won the series 4-1 and advanced to face the winner of the Boston Bruins-Toronto Maple Leafs series. The Bruins are 3-1 in that series, which could lead to a rematch of last season's epic first-round matchup against Florida in seven games.

For the Lightning, the loss begins a critical season for the franchise. That includes the future of 34-year-old star captain Steven Stamkos, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He had 40 goals in 79 games this season for Tampa Bay, his 16th with the franchise.

“It never crossed my mind,” said Stamkos, who waited near the tunnel leading to the locker room. “I'm out there trying to help my team win. Regardless, we're trying to score. There's a lot of pride on the goal line.” To greet each Lightning player as they left the ice after the game.

Cooper downplayed the fact that Stamkos may have played his final game with the Lightning.

“I don't know if there will be a lot of talk. I hope it doesn't happen anyway. He belongs here. We know that. He knows that,” the coach said. “He and I grew up together. He's a great player. He's in control of his own destiny. I don't know what's going to happen. He feels like Bolt for life, but he's just… [GM Julien BriseBois] That can be answered.”

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