Worst referee screw-job last night: Columbus or Tampa Bay?

As we mentioned in the Three Stars dishonorable mentions, there was some rather terrible officiating around the NHL last night. But as any fan, player or coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning will tell you this morning, those two teams probably got the worst of it.

In Tampa, Mike Smith was facing Milan Hejduk of the Colorado Avalanche in the shootout when he lost control of his stick. The rest is infamy:

Man, we haven't seen Rick Tocchet that upset since the Packers failed to cover the number on Monday Night Football. Hejduk's goal turned out to be the game-winner in Colorado's 2-1 victory. Damien Cristodero of the St. Pete Times explained that the only applicable rule in this situation is "26-4, which states that a goal will be awarded when, during a penalty shot, a shot is disrupted by a deliberately thrown stick."

Was Smith deliberately tossing his stick at the shooter? If he was, he sort of sucked at it.

Cristodero continues on Lightning Strikes:

What is strange is that such a play is not reviewable. As Mike Murphy, the NHL's director of hockey operations, said after the game, the only thing reviewable is if the puck was in the net. It wasn't so there could not be a review.

We have that kind of technology and the play like that can't be reviewed? Come on. You knew it was going to be a controversial call. The officials talked about it for an extended period of time. Don't you want to be sure you get it right?

What a joke. Almost as bad as officials refusing to speak with media after games like this, but not nearly as bad as those dopey wireless microphones the referees try to use never, ever working. Go to Radio Shack, Gary. They're probably having a sale.

Meanwhile, in Columbus, Ken Hitchcock was angry. Like, "you ate the last cookie and didn't throw away the box?" angry.

The Blue Jackets were in OT against the Dallas Stars in a 5-5 tie when Manny Malhotra appeared to end the game 13 seconds into the extra session (head to the 4:45 mark of the video for the goal):

Hitchcock was furious after the game:

"We won the hockey game," Hitchcock said. "We won the hockey game. It was a good goal. I don't care what anybody says, we won the hockey game.

"We outplayed them They can put up whatever score they want down there, they can put up whatever score they want in the National Hockey League. We won the hockey game.

"That player did not kick it. All he tried to do was get out of the way of the goaltender."

Malhotra held his tongue a bit, but was still outraged:

"I couldn't have kicked it if I tried ... I didn't understand the explanation. For them to say it was a kicking motion this ranks right up there. It's a really frustrating way to lose a point."

This one is closer call than the Lightning folly. But Malhotra's clearly being jostled by Daryl Sydor, and doesn't appear to intentionally guide the puck into the net with his skate because there's really no way for him to react that quickly to Marty Turco's save.

So we have one injustice that can't be fixed with replay, and one injustice caused by replay. And not a single referee willing to answer to them. Pathetic.

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