It looks like time served was enough to satisfy the NHL after Calgary Flames heavy hitter Milan Lucic knocked over the opposing goalie on Sunday night.
Lucic was given a five-minutes major and a game misconduct for charging after colliding with Oilers netminder Mike Smith in Game 3 in Edmonton.
Watching the play in real-time, it looked like Lucic took a heavy run at Smith, who had a shutout bid going at the time. It was the third period of a 4-1 Oilers win in their second-round NHL playoff series. At the time, the Oilers were up by four. Lucic, as you may know, has a reputation for running opponents into the end boards.
The beefy forward made a beeline for the goaltender, who was behind the goal-line playing the puck, and chaos ensued. Smith fell against the boards, helmet flying off, before other Oilers piled on top of Lucic, who then fell on top of the netminder.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Smith said after the game. “I was out playing the puck and all of a sudden I’m getting buried into the boards.”
As you might expect, Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter suggested the play was less dramatic than it appeared.
“They called it charging, right? Can you imagine if Looch did charge, what would have happened there?” Sutter said. “He actually tried to slow it down a little bit, I think.”
The NHL delivered a fine to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brandon Hagel this morning but no such announcement for Lucic.
Hearing there will be no supplemental discipline coming for Milan Lucic.
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) May 23, 2022
Smith playing puck behind goal-line
That’s the right call. In the flow of the game, Lucic’s attempt to slow down was so subtle, it was easily missed.
But watching replays, it was obvious that a number of factors led to the collision looking much worse than it really was.
Smith saw Lucic coming and protected the puck to make a play with it. Lucic was initially targeting a path around the back of the net with his stick out to try and poke the puck away.
A quick spin by Smith to backhand the puck the opposite direction put more of his body in Lucic’s path. The Flames veteran’s feet were sideways and a spray of ice showed his desire to slow down or stop.
But contact between Smith’s left leg and Lucic’s left skate threw them both completely off balance. As Smith fell, Lucic’s upper body made a little more contact. The bruising winger propped himself up on the boards, leaning over the prone goaltender.
He didn’t actually land on Smith until Josh Archibald rushed in to defend his netminder and piled on Lucic’s back.
Smith protected his maskless face, but came away no worse for wear.
Lucic was sent packing and the Calgary Flames killed off the five-minute major. Against his wishes, Smith reluctantly went to the room as part of the concussion protocol but returned to a standing ovation from the home crowd after four minutes of Miikko Koskinen action.
His shutout bid was spoiled by a perfect shot by Oliver Kylington a few minutes later.
A major penalty was more than enough punishment considering the outcome.
“It is what it is. You know what, it’s the score and who it was,” said Sutter, who criticized the officiating in the first two games. “That’s what they called.”