“I don’t see it as a break, a non-break, I think it’s actually nothing” – Sterling Journal-Advocate

TAMPA, Fla. — Avalanche coach Jared Bednar twice Thursday morning dismissed Tampa Bay’s complaint that the overtime-winning goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Wednesday night shouldn’t have counted.

“Honestly, I thought it was nothing,” Bednar said before the team boarded their chartered flight back to Denver. “It happens every other shift throughout the game.”

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said in his brief post-game press conference late Wednesday, “My heart breaks for the players because we probably should still be playing.” He left without explaining what he meant, but confirmed on Thursday that he believed officials missed an Avalanche penalty too many before Nazem Kadri’s extra-time goal gave Colorado a 3-2 win and a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Videos and stills show Kadri changing shifts with Nathan MacKinnon, and Kadri may have jumped onto the ice outside of the maximum 5-foot distance between them. And when Kadri had the puck and attacked the net, MacKinnon’s skates were still on the ice when he looked down at the bench.

Technically, MacKinnon is not allowed to have his skates on the ice if the player he substituted for has the puck. But it’s as much a non-call as it’s called. And at one point during the shift change, the Lightning had seven players on the ice – one more than the Avs.

“It’s part of the game. It’s a fluid game. You change spontaneously,” Bednar said. “They watch this clip and they save this clip — and I’ve done it multiple times to see exactly what they’re talking about — and Tampa has two guys who jump up with their D coming off the ice zone. I count seven (Lightning) and six (Avalanche) at one point. So that’s it… I don’t see it as a break, a non-break, I think it’s actually nothing.”

An hour after Bednar spoke, Cooper addressed the media from the same venue and retracted his emotional post-game comments.

“You’re in an emotional game,” he said. “Then you have to deal with all of you five minutes after an emotional loss. And so I apologize for last night, because that’s what you get when you have to speak to the media right away. The great thing about today is that it’s not yesterday and now there’s some excitement going into game 5 and my mind is now on how to win that. Nothing we can do to turn back. you missed it Too bad, but now there is water under the bridge. Let’s get ready – it should be a damn good Game 5.”

Lightning players also don’t look back on why they lost Game 4.

“It probably happens more often than we think,” said Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh of questionable line changes. “Obviously it gets increased there with the result and the result and you ask the players, we look for every inch to get an advantage and try to get in the game when you know your change is coming.

“It’s impossible to say what the right decision is. It’s so fast and it happens probably a million times a game than we think.”

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