There are good penalties. And bad penalties. And penalties which aren’t even penalties.
The last one would perfectly describe Radko Gudas’ hip check on Miles Wood that was whistled as clipping by referee Dan O’Halloran in the second period.
Even Wood was laughing as Gudas went to the box, realizing what a break he had gotten – a power play for nothing.
“He’s a pretty quick D-man,” Wood said. “I don’t think it should have been a call, but it was a good hit by him.”
That gave the Devils a power play. Then, when Wayne Simmond argued the call with O'Halloran, Simmonds drew two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The resulting 5-on-3 New Jersey power play saw the Devils score to break a 1-1 tie.
Bottom line? The Gudas call changed everything.
“I was really surprised,” Gudas said. “I didn’t think it was a penalty at all.”
Is this oversimplifying the game to say everything changed with that one call?
“Are we really simplifying it?” Gudas asked. “I think that after those calls we have to get together as a group and make sure we kill these off. Unfortunately, we let them score on that power play. It was just unlucky.”
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol called it “an excellent hit” by Gudas. He wouldn’t go deeper than that.
The six muffed power plays gave him enough reason to believe the Flyers could have gotten back in it. His Flyers are 3-9-3 since winning 10 games.
You can’t underestimate how those two calls turned the tables on the Flyers in this game.
“Everyone has their own opinion on the hit and we were obviously frustrated on the hit,” Travis Konecny said. “We thought it was a clean hit and we reacted to it. We have everyone’s backs.
“We have all had the one’s where we are angry with the ref and the one who made a hit like that. There is a time for that moment there.”
Goalie Michal Neuvirth thought it was a difference maker.
“Oh, absolutely, we were playing better in the second period,” he said. “I thought we had a momentum. You know stuff like that 5-on-3 for two minutes, it’s tough to defend.
“I think it’s taking way too many penalties lately and you got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”