Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar lamented a controversial tripping call on star defenseman Cale Makar that led to a Tampa Bay Lightning power-play goal in the Bolts' 3-2 win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday.
According to ESPN's Kristen Shilton, Bednar questioned the validity of the call, saying:
"I didn't love that call, just because I don't think there was any intent there. I don't even think he was checking that guy [Ondrej Palat]. Looked to me like he kind of tripped over his stick. It's a tough one. They got their only power play goal on that one. So that hurt, stung a little bit. But it is what it is. You gotta roll with the punches."
The penalty led to a 4-on-3 power play for Tampa during the second period, and it cashed in with a goal by Nikita Kucherov to go up 2-1.
Colorado tied it early in the third period on a Makar goal, but Palat later scored the game-winner for the Lightning with less than seven minutes left.
With the win, Tampa shrunk the series deficit to 3-2, and the series is now set to go back to Florida for Game 6 on Sunday.
Makar was also asked about the tripping penalty during his post-game media availability, but he took the high road, saying:
"I'm not here to talk about the refs. We have to battle through that. It's playoffs, there's going to be discrepancies game-to-game with different people. It is what it is. You can't get your emotions taken into that. For me, that [tripping penalty] doesn't happen very often, but at the end of the day, you have to refocus."
Despite his diplomatic response, Makar clearly had an issue with the officiating during the game.
Aside from the tripping penalty, Makar appeared incensed when he appeared to get hooked on a rush down the ice and no call was made:
Makar ended up with a goal and an assist in Friday's loss, giving him 29 points during the playoffs and putting him in position to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP if the Avs are able to close out the Lightning.
The Avalanche had a golden close-out opportunity on their home ice in Game 5, but now the margin for error is shrinking against two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning.
As is often the case during the playoffs, the officiating has been under the microscope lately, including during overtime of Game 4 when Nazem Kadri scored the game-winner for Colorado, but Lightning head coach Jon Cooper suggested it shouldn't have counted because the Avs had too many men on the ice.
In Game 5, Colorado was called for five penalties compared to just three for Tampa, including a late too-many-men call that essentially sunk the Avs' chances of scoring the equalizer.
The Lightning are 3-0 so far in this year's playoffs when facing elimination, but the Avalanche will have another chance to send them packing Sunday night in a massive Game 6.