The final minutes of the Chicago Blackhawks’ game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night were chaotic.
The Maple Leafs, who were being blown out early for the second game in a row, had rallied from a 5-0 deficit to pull within 5-4.
And Blackhawks backup goalie Collin Delia, who entered the game unexpectedly at the start of the third period because of an illness to Corey Crawford and had to face 29 shots, lost his stick during a scramble and couldn’t reach it.
And then with the Maple Leafs pressing for the tying goal, the Blackhawks’ net came loose, stopping play with about 20 seconds left.
Maple Leafs fans, who had booed their team after it was outscored 4-0 in the first period, booed loudly when replays showed how the net got off its moorings.
Under NHL rules, if Delia had knocked the net off intentionally, the Maple Leafs would have had a penalty shot.
But Delia said he had not.
“The net was already off when I slid into it,” he told reporters. “That’s why it came off so easily. I don’t know how it got that way.”
Another view shows possibly why.
Maple Leafs center John Tavares, who was closest to the play, didn’t see what happened, but thought a review should be allowed in that situation.
“If that’s on purpose by them, especially in the last couple minutes in big situations, I would love to see that being a challenge at some point,” he told reporters. “You got that kind of pressure, that’s kind of a free out, if that’s what happened.”
The Maple Leafs lost 5-4, and Toronto’s Auston Matthews, who said Monday night that the team appeared to quit during a 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, thought the issue Wednesday was the team’s poor start.
“We crawled our way back, it just wasn’t enough, but … that first period was just unacceptable,” he said.