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Updated: April 27th, 2014 5:26pm
Zulgad: Mistake on Avs' game-tying goal would have been easy to fix

Zulgad: Mistake on Avs' game-tying goal would have been easy to fix

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

Wild defenseman Ryan Suter called it a "damn shame" that P.A. Parenteau of the Colorado Avalanche scored the tying goal in the third period of Game 5 Saturday night on a play in which teammate Paul Stastny clearly appeared to be offsides.

Suter is right.

It was a shame that the Avs tied the score, and then were able to win it in overtime, because of a blown call by linesman Pierre Racicot.

But what really is a shame is that the blown call that helped give the Avalanche a 3-2 lead in the series didn't need to happen.

We can talk until we're blue in the face about the poor work done by an officiating crew led by Kelly Sutherland and Brad Meier, the Avalanche also likely had some gripes, but all of that complaining would be based on issues with judgment calls.

Parenteau's goal had nothing to do with a snap judgment, it had everything to do with the fact that Racicot was never in a position to make the right call.

Go back and watch the play, or check out this picture from Michael Russo's blog in the Star Tribune, and you can see that as Stastny proceeds the play into the Wild zone that Racicot is trying to save himself from colliding with the puck-carrying Nathan Mackinnon.

Not only is Racicot not in position on the blue line, but he's leaning away from the play. There is no way he could have seen the position of the puck and he certainly wasn't watching Stastny.

The solution to this problem is simple.

Replay.

The NHL already has an elaborate system in place to review goals and a war room in Toronto where league officials can make objective decisions and then pass them on to the referee.

A review of the Parenteau goal would have cleared up the issue in less than two minutes. The play is offsides, no goal, faceoff. The Wild still would have had a 3-2 lead with 1 minute, 14 seconds left in the game.

I threw out the replay idea on Twitter. Objections included slowing down the game and too many reviews of offsides calls.

The second point is a good one but there is a way to address it. If that play comes into the Wild zone offsides and the Avalanche don't score, then you let it go. It's a blown call but the missed call didn't result in a goal.

One issue with replay in hockey is that play can continue for long stretches and if you then have a review that overturns a call, you need to go back to the time when the call in question happened.

But what if the review for offsides only was part of a goal being scored? The act of the goal going into the net stops the clock immediately so there's the break in action.

If there had been any question about Parenteau's goal going into the net, it would have been reviewed because the NHL realizes it wants to get goals right. Replay makes that possible.

But the NHL didn't get it right Saturday night. Parenteau scored a goal that shouldn't have counted. Anyone who has seen the replay knows this. Avs fans. Wild fans. Hawks fans. Blues fans. Take your pick.

I'm all for keeping the human element in hockey and if Meier and Sutherland want to make poor decisions that's there right - any referee who calls an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for spraying ice in a goalie's face late in a playoff game should be ashamed - but Colorado's tying goal Saturday had nothing to do with a poor decision.

It had everything to do with the fact the person assigned to make the call, never saw the play.

There's a way to solve this problem and the NHL should take the opportunity to fix it this offseason.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Ryan Suter
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