NHL forced to issue a statement following last night's controversial ending to Game 3

Gary Bettman and the NHL in full scale damage control mode.


In case you missed it last night, the Colorado Avalanche managed to take a stranglehold in the Stanley Cup Final, earning themselves a 3-1 series lead thanks to the OT heroics of forward Nazem Kadri.

Check out the delayed reaction from Kadri's OT winner, which happened to be lodged in the top of the net:

It was a beautiful goal, but a bit of an odd moment where it seemed no one knew where the puck was. Personally, I assumed it was underneath Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevsky, but once it became clear that the puck was in the net the Avalanche piled onto the ice to celebrate:

After the game though, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper made it clear that he was NOT happy with the call on the ice and in fact he felt like the goal was scored illegally... but he wouldn't elaborate on how exactly, presumably for fear of being fined or suspended by the NHL.

Here are Cooper's full comments:

“You know, I love this league. It’s the greatest league in the world. The people that run it are amazing. Everything about it. It’s like a dream come true for me, especially being a Canadian kid growing up and everything that’s gone on.”

“You know, I’ve been part of some heartbreaking losses and defeats to the teams that took us out and been with a group that just fights, fights, and fights. And they fought their way to a third Stanley Cup Final in a row. And in a cap era when it’s so damn hard, and the rules are put against you because the league wants parity. And I love that about the league.

“And that’s what makes it tougher. And just watch this team, what they’ve gone through and the battling that’s gone on, and we’re all in this together. Players, coaches, refs, everybody. But this one is going to sting much more than others, just because it was taking on… it was potentially… I don’t know.”

Jon Cooper

Again, while Cooper hasn't come out and say it yet, it's believed that he's cryptically referring to the fact that Kadri could have been called for a too many men penalty as soon as he received the pass in the neutral zone. Forward Nathan MacKinnon was changing for Kadri and still wasn't really near the bench when Kadri ended up scoring the game winner.

Check out this sequence:

The NHL then submitted a statement online that basically attempts to exonerate themselves from any wrongdoing:

Oof... I've gotta say... if you have to release a statement defending your officials' decision making... your officials probably messed up. This could get ugly.