Brian Boyle’s first career overtime goal came with a side of controversy.
Less than three minutes into overtime Tuesday night, Boyle beat New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 5-4 win in Game 3 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
The moment everyone was talking about after the game, however, came about 10 seconds before the goal horn sounded.
Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey released a pass at his own blue line and was run over by the 6-foot-7 Boyle, causing him to crumple to the ice in a heap. With Hickey down, the Lightning gained possession, and by the time he regained his bearings and rejoined the play, Tampa Bay already had scored.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano lambasted the hit in his postgame news conference, calling it a suspendable offense.
“It’s a direct shot to the head,” Capuano told reporters, via ESPN.com. “I mean, probably going to get suspended a game. That’s what I mean. The whole game, it shouldn’t come down to that. (The referee) is standing right there. I’ve watched it numerous times now. Those are the types of hits that we’re trying to eliminate from our game.
“It’s just too bad that it had to end that way. It’s frustrating because it’s right there. The play is right there. He’s looking right at it. The league can look at it if they want, but I’ve watched it four or five times, maybe more, and it’s just frustrating it had to end in that particular way with a head shot.”
Unsurprisingly, Lightning coach Jon Cooper took no issue with Boyle’s check.
“I don’t have the sheet in front of me, but how many hits were in that game?” Cooper said, via ESPN.com. “Seventy? Eighty hits? I would say there were 15 harder than the one Boyle was involved in, and one that was a really hard hit. If you watched that game, to me, that was a mild hit compared to some of the banging that went on in that hockey game.
“The problem is with Boyle, he’s 6-foot-7, so when he’s going up against guys, I’m not sure how tall Hickey is, but he’s definitely not 6-foot. Those are tough situations, but at no point, in my opinion, I don’t think there was anything wrong with that. It was two guys trying to make a hockey play, and fortunately, it worked out for us.”
The overtime win gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is set for Friday night at the Barclays Center.
Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports Images