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Pivotal Moment: Phantom High Stick

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This wan't necessarily an easy game to find a turning point in. My immediate reaction after games is to typically analyze the play and try to stay away from blaming the refs. So, I watched the game, cleaned my kitchen, and thought about it. Really, what else was there? The phantom high sticking penalty against Chris Porter in the early-mid part of the 2nd period was truly a game changer last night when the Minnesota Wild lost 4-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Prior to the penalty being called, the Wild were losing 2-1 to the Penguins and the ice was definitely tilted in the Pens favor. That trend started when the puck dropped and continued until the final horn. Yet by the end the of the game the Wild were able to fight back and make things interesting. Unfortunately for the Wild, they fell just short of their cause. Now in case you missed it, @myregularface on twitter gif'd this call for us all, to live on in infamy.

Now I'm sure that did in fact sting Kris Letang a bit. I also fully understand that it was a bang-bang play in a fast game and it's not always easy to get the call correct. (It wouldn't be the only missed call of the game either) It's plain as day when watching that gif that Porter's stick was on the ice, and Letang's face was not. Not to beat a dead horse here, but I pulled a still of the event as well. Really, this was just an excuse to use the pen on my new/used Surface.

Ow my face

On the ensuing power play, Evgeni Malkin would score a goal, putting the Penguins up 3-1 and sinking me deeper into my couch. Just 2:56 later, Malkin would again score, increasing the Pens lead to 4-1. That would end up being the game-winning goal. Late in the 2nd period, the Wild were able to start clawing back into the game, scoring a PP goal courtesy of Jared Spurgeon. Then Mikko Koivu scored another PP goal early in the 3rd period, but that's where the scoring would end for your favorite team.

Try as they might, the Wild were just not able to get that game tying goal that may have secured them at least 1 point in the contest. Had the phantom high sticking penalty not been called, we could be discussing an entirely different 2nd half of that game.

The game very well could have ended in defeat without the phantom high sticking call. But that penalty put a little pep in the step of the Penguins, who didn't really need any extra help in dominating the game. The high sticking call was obviously not the only gaffe by the refs last night. I'm definitely not trying to suggest that the Wild were the only ones on the short end of the stick as far as the zebra's were concerned. Yet in just under 4 minutes from the time of that penalty, the Wild went from being down 2-1 to being down 4-1, and fighting your way back from that is a pretty daunting task for any team to overcome, especially on the road.