BOSTON — With time about to expire on an apparent 4-3 Boston Bruins win over St. Louis today at TD Banknorth Garden, the Blues rushed down ice with an extra attacker.
Keith Tkachuk rifled a shot on net just a stride or two inside the blue line and Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas deflected it into the air. St. Louis center David Backes then batted it out of the air and into the net with just 0.8 seconds left on the clock. After a lengthy video review, the goal was ruled good, just as the referee had called it minutes before.
The Blues went on to win, 5-4, after beating the Bruins, 2-0, in a shootout. So the controversial Backes goal, and whether the forward scored with a high stick, had added meaning to a Bruins team that had to settle for just one point in the standings after taking a two-goal lead into the final 90 seconds of the contest.
“I guess the best way to describe it is, everybody except the people in charge seem to think it wasn’t a goal,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien after the game. “They’re the ones who decide and it inconclusive. When it’s inconclusive, it goes with what the referee called there initially, and he called it a goal. There’s not much else I can say about it.”
Bruins forward Blake Wheeler, who was down in the dumps for his own reasons (a missed empty net and a failed attempt in the shootout), wasn’t letting his mind linger on the Backes score.
“At that point, I expected it to be good,” said Wheeler. “They did a good job of getting pucks to the net, crashing the net and they got rewarded. To me, it was hindsight. It was a goal and we just had to move on.”
Backes said after the game that he tried not to watch the replay too many times. Once the ruling came down, obviously, he agreed with it.
“It’s just like football, anywhere,” he said. “If there’s not conclusive evidence, then they can’t overturn it. When you’re looking at heights, you have to try it four feet across the plane on the ice, and it’s tough to find it conclusive on the ice.”
An inconclusive replay and a conclusive Bruins’ loss that proved the team is suddenly struggling to find its identity with four key forwards and two key defensemen out of the line-up. There’s just one more game before the All-Star break to right the ship, or the club will have four days of miring in misery.