Nashville’s Disallowed Goal Could Decide the Stanley Cup Final

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With a combined straight-up record of 19-4 when scoring first this postseason, the Pens and Preds know better than anyone just how important it is to get on the board first. Margins in a seven-game series are incredibly tight and the momentum gained from scoring an icebreaker, especially one on the road, can be a massive boost.

Nashville thought they had done just that in Game 1 when P.K. Subban beat Matt Murray with a wrister to temporarily make the score 1-0 but it was not to be. Mike Sullivan’s gamble to challenge that Filip Forsberg was offside earlier on the play that Subban scored on paid off and the Preds’ goal – as well as all of Nashville’s momentum – was erased.

The Penguins went on to score the next three goals of the game to take a 3-0 lead and, eventually, the Game 1 win.

How massive was that win? Well, when you consider that since 2002 the home team is 9-1 straight up in Game 2 after winning Game 1, it becomes emphatically clear just how important that overturned goal could be to the outcome of this series.

Here are those Game 2 results:

Game 2 Results in Cup Final When Home Team Wins Game 1
Date Away Away Score Home Home Score SU Result Away Money OU Result
June 1, 2016 SJS 1 PIT 2 L 112.0 U
June 7, 2014 NYR 4 LAK 5 L 142.0 O
June 15, 2013 BOS 2 CHI 1 W 140.0 U
June 4, 2011 BOS 2 VAN 3 L 173.0 P
May 31, 2010 PHI 1 CHI 2 L 165.0 U
May 31, 2009 PIT 1 DET 3 L 130.0 U
May 26, 2008 PIT 0 DET 3 L 155.0 U
May 30, 2007 OTT 0 ANA 1 L 110.0 U
June 7, 2006 EDM 0 CAR 5 L 155.0 U
May 29, 2003 ANA 0 NJD 3 L 150.0 U

I’m not here to argue whether or not the play was offside – it probably was – I’m just trying to paint a picture of how devastating that play was to Nashville’s Stanley Cup hopes.

When the home team wins Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, they go on to win it at about an 85 percent clip and although I don’t think the Preds are dead, the task they now face is a mountainous one that not many teams in the history of the NHL have managed to summit.

Offside reviews are a novel idea but as we’ve seen over and over again from the almost unlimited examples across the major North American sports-scape since reviews and challenges were introduced, stopping action to see whether or not someone infracted a seemingly innocuous rule by a matter of millimetres can alter a game’s momentum drastically and change a team’s fortune for the worse.

As someone who writes about, analyzes and bets on sports, Subban’s disallowed goal has left me with a sick feeling in my stomach and I’m firmly in the camp that’s suggesting we make offside reviews go the way of the FoxTrax glowing puck. Technological advances are not always good for the game – or the viewer – and that blue and red blunder by Fox was a clear example of why that’s true.

We’ll see what the Preds are really made of in Game 2 on Wednesday. If their play from the second period on in Monday’s series opener is any indication, they’re more than up for the challenge and have a good shot to beat the odds and send this best-of-seven back to Smashville tied at ones.

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