During Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avalanche center Lars Eller skated down the ice in the final minutes of the second period for a fairly normal play.
Eller followed teammate Logan O’Connor and Sens blueliner Jake Sanderson as they raced for possession of a puck thrown down the length of the ice.
Both O'Connor and Sanderson believed it was icing and stopped skating once the puck landed at the pads of Ottawa netminder Mads Sogaard. But the officials never blew their whistles for icing, and with Sogaard leaving the puck uncovered thinking the play was dead, Eller waltzed in and jammed the puck over the line to give Colorado a 5-2 lead.
After the game, the 33-year-old forward explained it as a pretty simple opportunity.
“Everybody was looking around. They were waiting for the whistle, but the whistle never came. So you just don’t quit on the play and then you see what happens,” Eller said.
To make matters worse, the goal didn’t appear to matter much with Colorado up by three with a shade over 20 minutes remaining in the contest, but the Senators came storming back in the third period.
Sens defenseman Travis Hamonic scored a goal within the first three minutes of the final frame, and captain Brady Tkachuk continued his timely scoring with a goal on the power play with 6:42 left on the clock.
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Unfortunately for everyone in Ottawa, that's as close as they would come and Eller’s weird goal – his first in a Colorado sweater – stood as the game-winner.
Tkachuk defended Sogaard for the misplay after the game.
“I mean, it’s just one of the weirdest goals probably this year, and we all believe that [Sogaard] is not at fault. I feel terrible for him,” he said. “He’s been so key – it’s just a s***** situation with both goalies going down and for him to be pushed. He’s a young goalie but he’s our goalie of the future and he’s going to take us to the Stanley Cup and take us to that next level we want to get to.
"We have all the belief in him, all the faith. It’s unbelievable how good of a player he is already.”
Veteran goaltender Cam Talbot has battled injuries over the last few months and is currently out two more weeks with a lower-body injury, while Anton Forsberg is likely out for the season after tearing his MCL in a gruesome injury in February.
That has forced 22-year-old Sogaard to take the reins during Ottawa's late-season push for its first playoff berth since 2017. Sogaard is 5-4-1 with a 3.46 goals-against average and .883 save percentage in 11 games this season.
Now eight points back of the New York Islanders for the second wild-card spot with just 14 games remaining, Ottawa’s chances at making it to the postseason are down to 1.1 percent, per MoneyPuck.