The San Jose Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-4 in Game 3 of the Western Conference final, on a controversial goal that appeared to be scored off of an illegal hand pass.

San Jose Sharks Game 3
St. Louis Blues players argue with referees after the San Jose Sharks score the game winning goal in overtime of Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. (Image: Jeff Roberson/AP)

The win gave the Sharks a 2-1 series lead over the Blues.

No Review for Hand Pass

The winning goal was scored by Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson just over five minutes into the first overtime period. However, the goal came after Timo Meier had slapped at the puck with his hand in midair, knocking it to the ice and passing it to a teammate. Because no Blues player touched the puck before Nyquist, the play should have been blown dead.

However, the call was missed on the ice, and hand passes aren’t part of the NHL’s video review protocol, there was no recourse for officials to overturn the goal, giving San Jose the win.

St. Louis players didn’t take kindly to the call, to put it lightly.

“I didn’t really get an explanation, other than I guess there’s a different set of rules for two different teams,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said after the game. “I’m sure they’ll lose some sleep tonight after looking at it.”

Meanwhile, San Jose players were less convinced that they had gotten any help from the officials.

“Well we weren’t playing hand ball, were we? We were playing hockey, so I think we deserved to win this game,” Karlsson said afterwards. “At the end of the day, I don’t think either team drew the shorter stick on any of the calls. Fair game.”

The ending overshadowed a thrilling game that saw the lead traded in a wild second period. After the Sharks scored twice late in the first period to take a 2-0 lead, the two teams traded goals within 20 seconds of each other early in the second period to leave the score at 3-1 San Jose.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored three minutes later to cut the lead to 3-2. David Perron then scored two goals late in the period, the second of which came on the power play, to give the Blues a 4-3 lead heading into the third.

The scored stayed that way until there was just over a minute remaining in regulation. That’s when Logan Couture scored his 14th goal of the playoffs to send the game to overtime.

San Jose Benefitting from Controversial Calls

The missed hand pass isn’t the first controversial decision that has gone San Jose’s way during this year’s playoffs.

In Game 7 of their first round series against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Sharks benefitted from a five-minute major power play after Joe Pavelski was pushed, lost his balance, then hit his head on the ice. Pavelski later said himself that the incident shouldn’t have triggered a major penalty, but the Sharks would go on to score four times on the power play, ultimately winning 5-4 in overtime.

The Sharks then benefitted from another call in Game 7 of their second round series against the Colorado Avalanche, as the Avs had a goal disallowed due to a controversial offside call in the second period. San Jose would go on to win the game 3-2.

The Game 3 victory has given the Sharks a small but undeniable advantage in the series. According to the FanDuel Sportsbook, San Jose is now a -240 favorite to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, while the Blues are posted at +192 to come from behind and win the series.

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