KANATA, Ontario – Colin Campbell, the NHL's vice president of operations, said on Wednesday that the Maple Leafs should not have been awarded what turned into the winning goal in Tuesday's game against the Panthers.
With the score tied at 1, Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen was run over by Toronto's Colton Orr in front of the net just as Tim Brant's long shot was coming in. The puck hit Orr and into the empty net as both he and Clemmensen were on the ice.
Clemmensen complained that interference should be called, but neither Francis Charron nor Stephen Walkom made the call. Toronto took a 2-1 lead in the third and added one from Phil Kessel to win 3-1.
“It's quite obvious if they had the chance to see it again, you would hope the call would be made that it was interference on a goaltender,'' Campbell said. “This happens. It doesn't happen often, but it's certainly a call you wish was made differently.''
General manager Dale Tallon, coach Pete DeBoer, Clemmensen and captain Bryan McCabe were the most vocal about the non-call after the game. Even Toronto coach Ron Wilson said the goal shouldn't have been allowed – although he wasn't advocating giving it back. A play such as interference on a goalie isn't reviewable by NHL rules.
“Unfortunately, everything was in place to go against Florida last night,'' Campbell said. “It happened late, went in there net and they had hardly any chance to come back. It could have been a no-goal and a power play chance for Florida. It was a tough situation for our referees. .-.-. They probably would like that call back if they had the opportunity.''
Tallon and DeBoer wouldn't comment on the disputed goal on the record Wednesday, but Campbell expressed he knows what the Panthers are feeling. Campbell, whose son Gregory spent five seasons (2005-10) with the Panthers, also knows every point is important.
“It's not March, it's not the playoffs,'' Campbell said. “But, still, two points is two points. Florida's been in position before where one point made the difference of being in the playoffs or not.''
The Panthers got just their second power play goal of the season Tuesday when Dennis Wideman tied the game at 1 during the second. Florida's power play came into Wednesday ranked 27th in the league (2-for-26). Assistant coach Jim Hulton knows the stats are ugly, but says production will come.
“The power play has to produce,'' said Hulton, who coaches the power play. “Finally we had the tenacity and work ethic to match the talent out there. It looks like they are getting comfortable. I thought early on we showed a lot of tentativeness.''
-- The Panthers practiced at the SensPlex in suburban Kanata, Ontario, on Wednesday with DeBoer sticking around afterward to help run a practice for the Blackhawks' minor bantam team from nearby Glaucester.
The coach of the Blackhawks? Wayne Gudbranson, father of Florida prospect Erik. Dennis Gudbranson, the youngest of three hockey-playing brothers, also plays on the team.
Erik Gudbranson, the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, was sent back to his junior team after a contract agreement between he and the Panthers wasn't reached at the end of training camp. Alex Gudbranson is playing with Erik for Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League.
“Mr. Gudbranson asked me during training camp when we came through Montreal if we could run a practice for his younger team,'' said DeBoer. “He's heavily involved in junior hockey here.''
THURSDAY: PANTHERS AT SENATORS
Where, When: Scotiabank Place, Kanata, Ont.; 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: FS Florida; 560-AM
The series: Senators lead 35-26-3
The game: The Senators have won two of their past three after losing five of six to start the season. Brian Elliott is 3-3 and is the only Ottawa goalie with a win this season. Florida went 2-0 here in 2008-09, but have won just three of eight since 2006-07. These two teams do not play again until Florida returns on Feb. 23.
The Projected Lineup:
David Booth-Stephen Weiss-Rostislav Olesz
Chris Higgins-Shawn Matthias-Steve Bernier
Cory Stillman-Marty Reasoner-Radek Dvorak
Steven Reinprecht-Mike Santorelli-Michael Frolik
--Bryan McCabe, Dmitry Kulikov
--Bryan Allen, Dennis Wideman
--Jason Garrison, Mike Weaver
Tomas Vokoun/Scott Clemmensen