Officiating Surely Didn't Help Pittsburgh Penguins Win Game Four

Chris MillerCorrespondent IMay 8, 2009

OTTAWA, ON - JUNE 02:  (L-R) Referees Bill McCreary and Brad Watson talk during Game Three of the 2007 Stanley Cup finals between the Anaheim Ducks and the Ottawa Senators on June 2, 2007 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Canada.  The Senators defeated the Ducks 5-3. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't get much help from the officials in Game Four of their series against the Washington Capitals.

They didn't need it either.

In a game where opportunities presented itself for Washington to get back into the game after trailing by two after one period of play, the Penguins responded to the task of holding off the Capitals, winning Game Four 5-3 and tying the series at two.

This best-of-seven series just became a best-of-three, and there is no time for reflection for the players as Game Five is Saturday night in Washington.

The referees in this game, however, should take a hard look at the game they called Friday night.

With the Penguins leading 2-1, and Washington on the powerplay, Sergei Gonchar began to clear the puck from the right side boards of the defensive zone. 

Alexander Ovechkin streamed in from along the boards, lining up Gonchar, but as Gonchar attempted to shed the check, Ovechkin widened his base, extending his leg towards Gonchar, and landing a knee-on-knee blow.

Gonchar left the game and did not return. 

Did the referees know there was a penalty entitled "kneeing" at the time of the incident?  Apparently not, with Ovechkin receiving a minor for tripping.  Surely, this play will be reviewed, but suspending Ovechkin? 

Don't get your hopes up.

Watch the Hit

Pittsburgh allowed the Capitals to cut the lead to 3-2 going into the third period, but Crosby opened the scoring in the third, converting a 2-on-1 tap in pass from Miroslav Satan. 

Shortly after, with the score now 4-2, Pittsburgh went on the powerplay in what would be the last time the referees knew how to operate their whistles.

With the Capitals pressing in the Penguins' zone on the tail end of the penalty, Matt Bradley was checked along the boards by both Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik. 

Bradley took exception.

As the play continued, Bradley checked both Letang and Orpik away from the puck, sending Orpik face-first into the goal post as he slid into his own net.  With both players, and even goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, staring at the referee in disbelief, Milan Jurcina scored to send the fans into an emotional uproar.

The Penguins were angry, the fans were furious, coach Dan Bylsma stood on the bench shocked, and Orpik flung the entire goal against the boards in disgust.

The referees didn't care.

The Penguins eventually put the game away, but several obvious penalities involving both teams were missed once again by the officiating crew.

When Detroit got the short end of the stick at the end of their controversial 2-1 loss against Anaheim earlier in the series because the referee was out of position, I didn't feel bad for them. 

"Sometimes the referee isn't in the right position." That's what I thought of the incident at the time.

Until tonight, when I found out Brad Watson was at the Mellon Arena in charge of Game Four.

Spend as much time praying and hoping he doesn't end up in your building anytime soon.