TAMPA | In victory or in defeat, Jon Cooper is usually on fire when it comes to talking to the media. On Wednesday night, however, the Lightning head coach was concise.
Taking several detours to avoid delivering his thoughts too bluntly, the trained lawyer had the seems to have pulled the plogue and give up on this final that his team could lose, Friday evening in Colorado.
Then, he ended up spitting the piece.
“This setback is going to hurt more than the others. It's hard for me to speak. I'll do it tomorrow (Thursday)… You'll understand what I mean when you see the winning goal again. I'm heartbroken for the players because we should still be playing this game,” he said.
Reviewing the footage revealed what Cooper was referring to. The Lightning head coach appears to be claiming there were six Avalanche players (plus the goaltender) on the playing surface when Nazem Kadri grabbed the puck.
On the original game sheet published by the NHL, the numbers of seven players appeared on the line corresponding to Kadri's goal: those of Bowen Byram, Jack Johnson, Valeri Nichushkin, Darcy Kuemper, Josh Manson, Artturi Lehkonen and Kadri.
Obviously another version was released later. Which is nothing to eliminate Cooper's doubts.
A few hours after the game, the NHL sent out a press release explaining the sequence.
“At the end of the game, the hockey operations sector met with the four officials as is the case after each game. About the streak leading to the winning goal, each of the four officials indicated that they had not seen a situation that deserved to call a penalty for having too many players on the ice, can we read. This type of footage is not subject to review by either hockey operations or on-ice officials. ”
Cooper may complain about the situation, but he can't change it. Friday night, his team will face elimination.
Kuemper begins the streak
Furthermore, even if it hasn't always seemed easy and even though he gave Victor Hedman a gift, Kuemper, taken out of the third game by his coach, responded well. He repelled 37 shots.
“We spoke yesterday (Tuesday). Jared (Bednar) wanted to make sure I would be back in goal. He wanted me to be calm and play my game. I know the guys supported me. I wanted to play at the height of what I can do.
In addition to stopping pucks, Kuemper is the one who started the streak leading to the winning goal.
“We had been in their zone for a while. Their players looked exhausted, so I wanted to return the puck as quickly as I could. Luckily, we were able to initiate a push. Lehky (Artturi Lehkonen) handed the puck to Naz (Nazem Kadri) who made the game brilliant. »