UNIONDALE, N.Y. — When Lightning coach Jon Cooper has challenged a call this season, he’s usually been proven right.
But when the Tampa Bay bench thought Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau was offside before a late second-period goal that gave the Islanders a 3-0 lead, coaches didn’t have the usual resources at their disposal.
After Islanders forward Matt Martin scored with 2:03 left in the second period, Cooper discovered quickly that the Hawk-Eye video system that provides coaches with replays of various angles on the bench was out. The Lightning had to rely solely on the TV feeds, and from the replays USA Network initially provided it looked as though Josh Bailey hadn’t taken the puck across the blue line before Pageau entered the offensive zone.
It was only after the Lightning had made the challenge that an angle from the opposite side of the ice showed Bailey push the puck over the blue line and then back after Pageau crossed the line.
“They’re in the entertainment business, they’re not showing all the angles that need to be shown,” Cooper said. “And so we’re now relying on limited intel, and if you really look at the play your gut and everything is telling you it’s offside.
“And then once the challenge is made, like way after the fact, we get into the room and then they finally showed an angle at the end which took them forever to show. We saw that Bailey pulled in on just like a fraction of an inch and then had it off, so you know, from our vantage point, even on the angles we had on the bench, everything was offside.
“And so that’s the unfortunate part,” Cooper continued. “We didn’t get all the angles, and that can be a little bit frustrating because we had to go a little bit on gut on what shouldn’t ever have to be a gut call. It’s a black-and-white call.”
USA Network on-ice analyst Brian Boucher insisted after watching the first few replays that Pageau was offside. But then an angle from the opposite-side camera showed that Bailey brought the puck over the blue line first. Because the Lightning lost the challenge, they were penalized for delay of game, and Tyler Johnson served the two-minute penalty.
Cooper said his team killing off that penalty gave it something to build on going into the third period, when it scored two goals and had the game on Ryan McDonagh’s stick before his shot was blocked by defenseman Ryan Pulock in front of an empty net.
Cooper was 3-1 on challenges during the regular season and won all three offside challenges he made.
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