SAN JOSE -- The Sharks were resigned to their fate Wednesday, unhappy that an overtime goal that would have earned them a second point against the Buffalo Sabres was overlooked but ready to move on.
"There was obviously an error somewhere along the line," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Are we happy about it? No, but there's nothing we can do to change it."
The missed goal came two minutes into the overtime of a 5-4 game that Buffalo won in a shootout. A shot by Tyler Kennedy hit a post, then stayed in the crease where Tommy Wingels poked it over the goal line before Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers deftly retrieved the puck and slid it under Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
None of the Sharks on the ice or on the bench saw the puck cross the goal line, but video replays aired only after play had resumed showed precisely what happened. Referee Mike Leggo had his arms extended indicating Kennedy's shot did not go in, but the whistle isn't heard until after Myers has slid the puck under Miller.
The NHL offered two slightly different explanations for the non-goal and why the NHL war room in Toronto did not get involved.
"The referee was in the act of blowing his whistle to stop play. The action is not reviewable," league vice-president Frank Brown said in an email.
But Mike Murphy, the league's senior vice-president of hockey operations, invoked the NHL's "intent to blow" the whistle rule in explaining what happened to Hockey Night in Canada.
Because none of the Sharks saw the puck cross the line, there was no ruckus raised on the ice at the time. In hindsight, players said they should have done more to push for a review even though the only one who may have actually known it was a goal was Myers.
"I think if we would have said something, for sure they would have looked at it," Kennedy said. "But they started right up so fast, I couldn't believe that happened."
Wingels said he knew he made good contact with the puck, but was knocked down by Sabres defenseman Jamie McBain and never really saw where the puck initially ended up.
After the whistle, Wingels said, "I recall trying to look at the Jumbotron and asking someone on the bench if he knew where it went because I was screened. I wasn't sure where it went and it was a tough play to follow."
Television replays did not show what really happened until more than a minute after play had resumed, too late to change anything.
Had the initial replay showed the goal, McLellan said the Sharks have a mechanism that would have allowed video coordinator Brett Heimlich to pass the information on to assistant coach Jay Woodcroft so that they could call for a review in Toronto.
As it was, McLellan said the Sharks did not learn that the puck had crossed the line until they reached the locker room after coming up short in the shootout. And he anticipated the response from the league before actually hearing it.
"I know the old 'we were going to blow the whistle anyhow' routine will come out, and that's where we'll go," the coach said, adding that's hard to argue against because it's a judgment call.
McLellan said that as disappointing as the missed goal was, he was more upset with his team's play against a Sabres team that entered the game with a 2-13-1 record.
"But, I think there's protocol that has to be followed," he said, going back to the goal that wasn't. "Any time there is even a questionable situation, I don't know how it works, if we should be pushing the button or what we should be doing. I'm sure everybody will look at it and they'll be better next time."