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Off the Top of My Head: The referees, Jesse Puljujarvi, and more

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Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
11 months ago
I didn’t much like the way referees Garrett Rank and Kevin Pollock officiated the game in the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers Friday. It’s obvious from all the fan feedback with the Kings leading the series 2-1 going into Game 4 tonight that a lot of you feel the same way.
If you didn’t like the unsportsmanlike call on Leon Draisaitl for a stick tap on the shins of Drew Doughty that led to Adrian Kempe’s 2-2 goal 18 seconds after Connor McDavid put the Oilers up 2-1, fair enough. It was a ticky-tack penalty, but I’d ask this: why even give Rank and Pollock the chance to make a bad call with as all-over-the-place as they’d been?
If you didn’t like the slashing penalty on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for hacking Alex Iafallo’s stick out of his hands that led to the OT winner by Trevor Moore, OK, but that call gets made almost every time. Again, I’d ask: why give the zebras any sway in the outcome by taking that hack at Iafallo’s stick? Don’t do it.
Finally, if you feel the Oilers were done dirty on the winner by Moore because the situation room didn’t see clear evidence of a high stick by Gabriel Vilardi leading to the goal on replay, that’s understandable. It’s frustrating, but it doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy to screw over the Oilers or Canadian teams in general as a few tin-foil hat wearing fans insist.
Apr 21, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings left wing Trevor Moore (12) is congratulated by teammates after scoring the winning goal in the first overtime period of game three of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Edmonton Oilers at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

A LOSER’S LAMENT

What the Oilers need to do when the puck drops tonight is get past the loser’s lament — fixating on the officials and what is and isn’t called – and take care of business. Let it go and get a grip on what they can control. The way I see it, generating production five-on-five is the most obvious place to start.
McDavid scored his first two goals of the series Friday, both on the power play. Aside from Leon Draisaitl, who has 3-3-6, the rest of the top six has done bupkis at evens. RNH has two power-play assists and Zach Hyman has one. Evander Kane has one (empty-net) goal and one assist. Kailer Yamamoto doesn’t have a point.
Joonas Korpisalo has been sharp in the Kings net and boasts a .931 save percentage in the series. So far, he’s outplayed Stuart Skinner by a fair margin, but enough already. Surely, the highest-scoring team in the league can find a way to put some pucks behind the big Finn, no? The Oilers have had most of the play but that hasn’t translated into enough goals.

WHAT THEY SAY

“Yeah, we feel that way obviously, but we’re down 2-1 in the series,” McDavid said post-game Friday. “There’s no moral victory, so we’ve got to find a way to turn those chances and that kind of territory advantage into results. That’s just the way it is.”
Draisaitl, who had three goals and five of his six points in the first two games, sees it the same way. “I think we’re playing well. We’re doing a lot of good things. I think we’re definitely the better team for the bigger spurts. Seems like we can’t score at the right times right now. We’ve got to regroup and find a weakness.
“We’ve got to find a way to score at the right time and create better looks for ourselves. I think we got lots, but I think our team has a lot of potential to have even more, so it’s something to look at.”
Forget about the zebras, gentlemen. Don’t waste time sweating factors you don’t control. You have the better team. Get back to what you do best. Play the game. It’ll be fine.

JESSE DRAW IN

After being healthy scratched in the first two games of Carolina’s series with the New York Islanders, former Oiler Jesse Puljujarvi drew into the Hurricanes’ line-up for Game 3 Friday. The Canes made the move in the wake of the broken hand suffered by Teuvo Teravainen in the second game of the series.
Puljujarvi, 24, who had managed just 0-2-2 in 17 games with Carolina since a Feb. 28 trade from Edmonton after scoring 5-9-14 in 58 games with the Oilers, got no sniff on the scoresheet in a 5-1 win for the Islanders.
Puljujarvi was pointless, minus-2 with no hits and one shot on goal in 9:15 of ice time, 1:59 of that coming on the power play.

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