COLUMBUS, OHIO – After a competitive clash between two of the best teams in the Western and Eastern Conferences on Thursday night, Bruce Boudreau’s face was beet red, and it wasn’t regarding the Wild’s play during a 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Wild coach did what he rarely does: let loose about the officiating, as well as a Wild goal that was overturned by the NHL’s Situation Room.
A fuming Boudreau said it was a “game where two teams worked their butts off that are two of the top teams in the league, and you end up losing on bad calls.”
The Wild’s fourth 1-0 loss of the season was made more frustrating by Erik Haula having a second-period goal overturned.
After Haula crashed the net to get to Marco Scandella’s rebound, Haula kicked the puck with his right skate and it ricocheted into the net off defender William Karlsson’s skate.
The goal was overturned after the NHL ruled Haula used a distinct kicking motion. According to Rule 49.2, “a goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks a puck that deflects into the net off any player…”
“The puck wasn’t kicked at the net,” Boudreau said. “He was trying to kick it up to his skate because it was going 5 feet wide. And they put it in their own net. So I don’t see how in Toronto that they’re calling it unless it’s a guy they just pulled in off the street that hasn’t seen hockey before.”
Goalie Devan Dubnyk called it a crazy rule, saying, “We’ve got to change pants in the middle of the year to get more goals, but if a guy kicks the puck toward the corner of the rink and it goes off somebody, that’s not a goal.”
Haula said the ref told him if it deflected off Karlsson’s stick and not his body, it would have been a goal.
“If that’s the rule, it’s the worst rule I’ve ever heard,” Haula said.
Boudreau also critiqued the job done by referees Chris Rooney and Francois St. Laurent. In the second period, neither made a call when defenseman David Savard punched Eric Staal in the head after he shoved Staal onto goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Boudreau said they then let Mikko Koivu “get slashed wickedly” five minutes before calling Nino Niederreiter for “that chintzy, little backhand touch.”
With 1:23 left, St. Laurent called Martin Hanzal for elbowing. Boudreau saw more to the play.
“You want to give Hanzal an elbowing penalty for that in front of the net, that’s great, but you’ve got to give an embellishing penalty for the goaltender for throwing his head back as if somebody just shot a bullet and hit him in the head,” Boudreau said.
Bobrovsky made 38 saves. The Wild was shut out on the road for the first time since Nov. 5 and suffered its second regulation road loss in the past 19.
Brandon Saad’s winner 4:32 into the third came after Dubnyk couldn’t swallow a knuckling puck that deflected off Ryan Suter’s stick.
“That’s a real good hockey team,” Dubnyk said after making 39 saves. “Even from my end, I could see they were doing a great job collapsing in front and making it tough, and ‘Bob’ was down there doing what he does.”
The Wild had good looks. Chris Stewart hit a post. Staal, who has one empty-net goal in the past 18 games, was denied on a breakaway.
“I’d like to be a difference-maker and bury one for our team to get us ahead there,” Staal said.
The Wild is 2-1 since Zach Parise and Jason Pominville came down with the mumps. Boudreau hopes they can practice Saturday. They were especially missed on the Wild’s 0-for-4 power play.
“We know we’ve got guys who can fill … but those are two big pieces for us,” Dubnyk said. “So it’s exciting to picture what the lineup’s going to be and what we’re going to be capable of when we add those two guys back in the mix.”