Last night sucked, no two ways about it. The Isles easily played some of their best hockey these playoffs, dominated Tampa for a vast majority of the game, and then shot themselves in the foot by allowing them to come back in the final minute and take a game they had no business winning.
With that being said, I have zero problem with the hit Brian Boyle laid on Thomas Hickey that led to the game winning goal. Now that’s not to say I don’t think it wasn’t a little high. Boyle definitely got some of Hickey’s head in there but main point of contact was his shoulder. If there’s anyone to blame on that play, it’s the refs for not blowing the play down with Hickey lying on the ice with his head in his hands. But OT in Game 3 of the Conference Semi-Finals – it’s hard to see that play getting called dead with the ensuing chance developing.
If there’s anyone to blame for last night’s loss, it’s the Isles. It’s the two unnecessary icings that led to mismatched pairings that left Okposo-JT-Nielsen as the final shift of the game. It’s Brock Nelson gliding in next to Hedman as he got off the initial shot that led to Boyle’s rebound to win it. It’s the Isles for allowing Tampa to even have the chance of scoring a game winning goal in the first place, as they had the game all but wrapped up with 40 seconds remaining. Not a 90% legal hit laid on Thomas Hickey in OT.
Tampa had no business winning that game, Boyle’s hit certainly gave fans an excuse for the loss, and trust me I wish that was the real reason the Isles dropped Game 3, but the catalyst came way before Boyle even took his final shift of the game. Game 4 is on Friday, as we have to endure a dreadful two day layover, but if the Isles can repeat what they did last night [minus a few breakdowns] I like their chances of tying the series at 2 games a piece.