DENVER – Zach Parise said he had never seen such a thing. Erik Johnson said he didn’t realize it until a linesman told him.
Same thing for Paul Stastny, who was told by teammate Ryan O’Reilly that Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov for an extra attacker with 3 minutes left in Thursday’s Game 1.
“I thought, ‘I better win this draw,’ ” said Stastny, who became the first NHLer in playoff history to score a tying goal with less than 15 seconds left in regulation followed up by an overtime winner.
Down by one goal, most coaches would wait until a minute or so remained before pulling the goalie. Not Roy, the Hall of Fame goalie, who earlier this season did the same thing against New Jersey and Boston.
Against the Devils on Feb. 3, Roy pulled Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 2:41 left. P.A. Parenteau tied the score, then O’Reilly won it in overtime.
“As a goalie I would love to see my coach doing that,” Roy said. “You want to see the team trying. It doesn’t matter if it happens at three minutes or two minutes or one minute. It’s just a feeling. I know one day it might bite us, but it’s a long-term thing.
“If you do it 10 times and you score four goals, it’s 40 percent. If you give up one goal, what the heck, let’s keep doing it. I think it gives us momentum, it also forces them to defend. We keep it in their end, they get tired. The longer it lasts the tougher it is for them to make the right plays. … If you have the momentum I’m not afraid to do it early, even if it can backfire.”
Cutting it close
Wild rookie center Erik Haula said Thursday’s Game 1 loss “basically came down to inches.”
He was referring to Johnson, the Avalanche defenseman, swiping away Haula’s empty-net try inches from the goal line.
“I didn’t think I could get it, then I turned on the afterburners and it slowed down and turned on its edge and I was able to make a last-ditch, desperation effort,” Johnson said. “That’s just one of the plays in the game that was fun to make and help the team win.”
Haula, a fellow former Gopher, said: “I tried to get some elevation so it wouldn’t go for icing and we can get a change. Suddenly, I’m looking and it might go in. Then it doesn’t go in, net’s off, scrum going on and I don’t know what the heck’s going on. I think the refs made a terrible call there.”
Haula felt Johnson deliberately knocked the net off the moorings and it should have been a penalty or awarded goal. At a minimum, the net coming off prevented Matt Cooke from scoring an empty-netter.
Johnson said Cooke’s shot hit him in the stomach.
“At first I was ticked off,” Johnson said. “But then I realized he probably didn’t know that I knocked the net off. Or maybe he did, I don’t know. That’s part of the desperation in playoff hockey.”
Wild coach Mike Yeo said the team plans to meet with the series supervisor of officials Saturday to get an interpretation on a “couple things” the Wild wasn’t pleased with.