LOS ANGELES — The Sabres not only got away with one, the NHL says it’s justice that they did.
San Jose feels it beat Buffalo in overtime Tuesday night, but the standings and the league tell a different story. The Sharks did indeed push the puck over the goal line during their 5-4 shootout loss to Buffalo, but referee Mike Leggo didn’t see it and officials in Toronto didn’t have time to review the play.
With that, Buffalo enters tonight’s game in Los Angeles with a victory over one of the NHL’s elite teams in the previous game.
The play in question came with three minutes left in OT. San Jose’s Tyler Kennedy pinged the post, and Tommy Wingels pushed the rebound under goaltender Ryan Miller and over the goal line.
Defenseman Tyler Myers quickly kicked it back out. Leggo blew the whistle and signaled no goal. Officials in Toronto didn’t notice the puck went in until after play had resumed, which was too late to change anything, so there was no call to the refs.
The NHL told Elliotte Friedman of CBC that the goal didn’t count because of Rule 78.5, which in part reads a goal is disallowed “when the referee deems the play has been stopped, even if he had not physically had the opportunity to stop play by blowing his whistle.”
“Had we called a goal against Buffalo it would have been wrong because it shouldn’t have been a goal,” Mike Murphy, NHL senior vice president of hockey operations, told Friedman. “We should have done the headsets because any controversy would have died. This type of play is not a rarity.
“The optics would have been better if we got him to put on the headset and asked what he was seeing.”
It appears the Sabres won’t miss Teemu Selanne’s farewell season after all.
The Anaheim Ducks’ legend needed oral surgery after taking a high-stick to the mouth Oct. 29. The 43-year-old, who said over the summer that he was coming back for one final season, was scheduled to miss at least two weeks. Buffalo hosted the Ducks on Saturday and will visit Anaheim on Friday, with both games falling in the absence window.
Selanne accelerated his return date, though, and came back for Wednesday’s home game against Phoenix.
The Sabres will get their first look at old friend Robyn Regehr since trading him to Los Angeles last season. Buffalo acquired two second-round draft picks for the veteran defenseman.
Regehr has found a home in L.A. and re-signed for two years at $3 million per season. The 33-year-old is fifth on the Kings in ice time at 19:33 per game. He has two assists in 15 outings.
The sun was shining in Southern California, and the Sabres got to enjoy it thanks to the collective bargaining agreement. Each team needs to schedule four days off, with up to two on the road, for every full calendar month.
“There’s rules, and we haven’t really had a day off,” coach Ron Rolston said. “You can’t count a travel day as a day off. We have to do what we have to do.
“You’d like to practice, but also with the schedule in an Olympic year, you’ve got to make sure your guys are physically ready to play. You’re in the double-edged sword of you’ve got to prepare, but you’ve also got to make sure they have the energy to play another three in four nights.”