Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 5-2 loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.
* There's no doubt the biggest turning point in the game occurred with 2:04 remaining in the second period and Toronto leading 3-0. Brian Dumoulin, not known for his offensive prowess, scored the most beautiful goal of his career after carrying the puck low, cutting to the net and slipping the rubber through goalie Freddie Andersen. The goal made it a 3-1 game and … oh, wait.
The goal was immediately waved off by the referees and Dumoulin was tossed into the penalty box for goalie interference. He was irate. As was head coach Mike Sullivan and Pens fans around North America.
I'm never one to complain about referees. They're human beings that make mistakes. I don't believe they try to maliciously throw the games in any one direction. And I believe over the course of a season the bad calls balance themselves out. But man, this was a tough call to swallow for the Pens.
Waving the goal off was bad enough. But adding insult to injury and tacking on the penalty was cruelty - and thus making it impossible for the Pens to challenge the call. And when the Leafs scored on the ensuing power play - sealing the victory - it was downright larceny. There's a huge difference between 3-1 and 4-0. Dumoulin gave the Pens a fighting chance in this game. And it was taken away.
* With all the above being said, this loss can't be solely blamed on officiating. The referees gave the Pens plenty of early chances on the power play to connect (they didn't). And the Pens can only blame themselves for digging a 3-0 hole. Yes, the call did pretty much seal their fate. But the Pens put themselves on life support well before that play. The call simply pulled the plug.
* And, again, poor Dumoulin. No doubt that goal would have been the biggest highlight of his career. Perhaps, his life. And instead it's all for naught.
* There were many reasons the Pens lost this contest. But the biggest culprit may have been the lackluster results of the team's power play. Pittsburgh was awarded the first 3 power plays of the game. The club not only failed to score, but didn't even garner enough zone time to build momentum in its favor. Passes were off, plays were forced and overall the execution just wasn't crisp. If the Pens had connected on any of those 3 man-advantages, this game could have had a different outcome.
* On the flip side, the Pens PK failed to keep the puck out of their own net on 2 critical chances. The first came with 8:25 left in the second period that turned a 2-0 deficit into 3-0. But the backbreaker came after Dumoulin's goal was waved off. The Leafs' second power-play goal with 96 seconds left in the second frame made it 4-0 and erased any possibility of a Pittsburgh comeback. The Pens needed the PK to come through in that instance, and it just wasn't meant to be.