Devils get shafted on boarding call


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Steven Santini scored the lone goal for the Devils in a tough 3-1 loss to the Canadiens, who benefited from a questionable five-minute major for boarding on Karl Stollery in the third period. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy NJDevils.

In the third period of a tie hockey game, the Devils got shafted on a boarding call. At 28 seconds, veteran Karl Stollery boarded Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu down to the ice into the boards.

Some boarding penalties can be called a major. This wasn’t one of them. But that didn’t stop refs (both Canadian) Frederick L’Ecuyer and Dean Morton from sending Stollery off for five minutes. Here it is:

That simply isn’t a five-minute boarding major. At worst, it should’ve been two. When Montreal forward Torrey Mitchell came in and got two for roughing, it probably should’ve resulted in a four-on-four for two minutes and then back to even strength. With coach John Hynes fuming on the Devils bench, instead Montreal got a three-minute power play out of it.

They proceeded to score two power play goals with Shea Weber blasting a one-timer past Keith Kinkaid followed by Max Pacioretty scoring 1:22 later. That was the difference in the game. One in which the Devils felt wronged. However, the penalty kill wasn’t good enough in that spot. Simply put, you can’t allow the Canadiens to take advantage scoring twice in such a short span.

Montreal scored all three of their goals on the man-advantage including a power play tally from Alex Galchenyuk back in the first following New Jersey rookie Steven Santini’s second NHL goal. He’s been a good player for the Devils since being recalled going plus-six so far.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak. The Devils had been playing their best hockey lately winning three consecutive one-goal games on a successful road swing that included a huge 4-3 win over the first place Wild on a late goal from unlikely source Beau Bennett.

With the Bruins getting shutout again on home ice in what probably spells the end for poor coach Claude Julien and the Hurricanes getting hammered by the Pens, the Devils remain three points out of the final wildcard spot held by the Leafs. New Jersey visits the Flyers on Saturday. Cory Schneider will be back in net.

While they are justified in being upset over the major on Stollery, the Devils can’t expect to win with only 17 shots. Especially against vet backup Al Montoya, who hardly broke a sweat making 16 saves for the win.

Having played 47 games, the Devils still have 35 left to chase that second wildcard. Every game matters. No one is out of it. Not even Buffalo following an emotional 3-2 overtime home win with Kyle Okposo playing the hero to give them 45 points. The Islanders have won two straight and three of four to reach 44 with still 39 to go.

It’s anyone’s race for that final spot. Even if the Habs benefited from a questionable call. Good teams find a way to kill it off and pick up their teammate. The Devils didn’t. It’s back to the drawing board with a big game tomorrow against those Flyers.

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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