New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins had a lot of players in the penalty box, but it was the guy who got out first who perplexed fans.
The uproar started at 5:35 of the third period of the game on Thursday night. A scrum at the Pittsburgh net sparked by Isles forward Kyle Palmieri’s whacks on goaltender Tristan Jarry sparked a scrum that sent all ten skaters on the ice to the penalty boxes. Palmieri, Pageau, Mayfield, Wahlstrom, and Leddy were all lost to the Islanders. Crosby, Guentzel, Rust, Letang, and Dumoulin all left Pittsburgh. Guentzel was given a two-minute penalty for cutting Palmieri on his way to the box, giving the Islanders a power play opportunity.
The coincidental minors rule would have had the players sitting out for the full two minutes:
When multiple penalties are assessed to both teams, equal numbers of minor and major penalties shall be eliminated using the coincidental penalty rule and any differential in time penalties shall be served in the normal manner and displayed on the penalty time clock accordingly (see 19.5). If there is no differential in time penalties, all players will serve their allotted penalty time, but will not be released until the first stoppage of play following the expiration of their respective penalties.
Here’s Rule 16.2:
When the minor penalties of two players of the same team terminate at the same time, the Captain of that team shall designate to the Referee which of such players will return to the ice first and the Referee will instruct the Penalty Timekeeper accordingly.
This supported by the NHL Rulebook’s lengthy table on scenarios involving a goal scored on a shorthanded team.
Captain’s choice. The minor penalty on Team B can cancel off with any one of the minor penalties assessed to the players on Team A.
The determination must be made at the time the penalties are assessed.
Jason Zucker of Pittsburgh was sent back to the bench after serving the extra two minutes. Crosby should have made Zucker give Guentzel the additional minor, guaranteeing Zucker’s return if a goal was scored and Guentzel’s release after his two minutes were up. He should have made the decision to put Letang on the clock and allow him to leave New York.
Crosby made the decision that his penalty would be the only non-coincidental call on the clock. Guentzel’s penalty will also keep him in the box for at least four minutes as a result of this ruling. He’d be trapped in there before the next stoppage after his four penalty minutes expired, with no lack of manpower on the ice.
That is precisely what occurred. With the penalty boxes loaded, the Islanders took advantage of the situation. New York tied the game at 3-3 with a power play goal 19 seconds later.
The Islanders scored. Sidney Crosby left the penalty box. Guentzel stayed put. Just like the captain called it.
Referees for the game were Kelly Sutherland (#11) and Garrett Rank (#7). Linesmen were Jonny Murray (#95) and Bevan Mills (#53).