What happened in the second period of the Penguins & Islanders game Friday night is nothing short of NHL officials jumping the shark on the hits to the head. The Penguins came into the incident up 2-0 on goals earlier in the period from Mike Rupp and Eric Tangradi (his 1st NHL goal).
As Blake Comeau entered the Penguins zone with a little over 12 to go in the frame he was cleanly checked by Kris Letang, shoulder to shoulder. Comeau’s helmet flew off and he went to the ice and Letang, of balance from the hit extended his forearm. Josh Bailey took exception to the clean hit and dropped the gloves, going after Letang.
The officials deemed it an “lIllegal Hit to the Head” despite no part of Letang ever making contact with Comeau’s dome. They gave him 5 and the game misconduct. It was an atrocious call. Bailey’s actions put the teams at 4 on 4 for two minutes and then the Islanders went to work on a 3 minute major penalty on which Comeau was an active participant. He fired a shot from he point on the Isles PP and none other than Bailey settled the shot and put it behind Brent Johnson to make it 2-1 on a Powerplay the Islanders should have never had.
The Powerplay wasn’t over. The Pens would technically kill the rest of it and as they were exiting the zone Maxime Talbot was tripped and there was no call. The Islanders charged the Pens zone off of the turnover and Radek Martinek would score from Comeau. One single bad call put the Penguins into situations they should never have been in and equalized the game.
I take a large amount of exception to Comeau’s actions. He sold the hit to the head. He lay fairly motionless on the ice and then on his knees for a least :45 seconds before getting up, going to the bench with a smile on his face, and taking his next shift while Letang was gone for the night for doing absolutely nothing. Comeau took advantage of a culture change in the league to the new headshot rules implemented over the summer and the Jason Pominville/Niklas Hjalmarsson incident earlier in the week. I don’t know why you’d fake an being hurt like that but it was a dive. Worst of all it was an embellishment that forced the Officials to take a reactionary course of action just in case Letang had hit him in the head
That course of action by the officials changed the course of a game for nothing but a completely legal play.
The Pens would need Overtime and a Powerplay goal from Alex Golisgoski to notch their first ever win at Consol Energy Center.
If Colin Campbell and the league actually enforce some sort of sanction on Letang I’ll buy the torches and the pitchforks.
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