Hockey's never been much for the sanctity of seeds. No one blinked last year when the eight-seeded Kings blew through the competition on the way to a Cup. So it's not any sort of mathematical upset that the Red Wings took a 2-1 lead in their series with the top-seeded Blackhawks last night—but they needed one very egregious no-goal ruling to make it happen.
Detroit fans probably wouldn't characterize it as a no-call. More like a make-up call, a karmic reimbursement for a Blackhawks goal about a minute prior. Early in the third, with the Red Wings up 2-0, Niklas Hjalmarsson checked Johan Franzen into the boards. With Franzen lying on the ice, taken out of the play, Duncan Keith lofted the puck halfway down the ice. Kane settled the skittering puck and knuckled it through Jimmy Howard's five-hole.
A call would have stopped the play, and preserved Detroit's two-goal lead. Should there have been a whistle? "It should've been a two-minute penalty," Mike Babcock said.
You'd probably hear more complaints from the Wings had the universe not evened things out 67 seconds later. Viktor Stalberg threw a puck into traffic in front of Howard, and it bounced across the goal line. For a split-second, the game appeared tied—until referee Brad Watson waived it off for goaltender interference. Did Andrew Shaw even touch Howard? Doesn't appear so.
The worst part of the video is the broadcasting team never once acknowledging that it was a bullshit call. Not even the worst homer announcer would let those endless, conclusive replays go by without noting it; but NBC is basically NHL PR at this point.
A minute later, Pavel Datsyuk scored on a gorgeous wrister to re-extend Detroit's lead to two, and that's how it would end. Of the phantom interference call, Corey Crawford merely said, "I think that's the first time that I've seen 'in the crease' called since about 2000." Other Blackhawks spoke up, but respectfully. And that's the point we're at. Playoff officiating has been so inconsistent, and teams have whined so much already (Chicago is certainly guilty of this), that no one can work up the energy to complain about legitimate beefs—and it'd get lost in the noise anyway.
But a 2-1 series lead is still a 2-1 series lead, and the Blackhawks' late-game frustration could carry over into Game 4 if things start to go sour. Which means the officials will have their hands full. Great.