CALGARY - Craig Conroy calls Martin Gelinas "the Eliminator."
And Gelinas almost eliminated the Lightning Saturday night in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final.
Gelinas, who owns the NHL record with three series-ending overtime goals, almost had the Cup clincher on his skate blade with about seven minutes left in the third period, but a video review by NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell concluded that Nikolai Khabibulin stopped the puck short of the goal line, denying Gelinas the biggest goal of his career.
The sequence started on a Calgary breakout when forward Oleg Saprykin knifed in on Khabibulin from the right and attempted to center to Gelinas, who was crashing the goal.
Khabibulin sprung from the crease to obstruct the pass, which bounced against Gelinas' right skate and toward the goal line. Because Gelinas was not making a kicking motion when the puck struck his blade, it would have counted had it crossed the line. The puck struck Khabibulin's right pad where it bends over the skate, however, and video replays showed how close it came to crossing the line, though no direct overhead shot was available.
After Khabibulin's stop, play continued as fans in the Saddledome groaned at the missed scoring chance.
"We thought we had the big play," Flames coach Darryl Sutter said.
NHL spokesman Frank Brown said the play was reviewed from multiple angles, but because the angle that showed the puck was from high over Khabibulin's shoulder, and because the puck was on edge and in the air, there was not enough evidence to rule it a goal.
As with all goal decisions in the playoffs, the final judgment was made by Campbell in Toronto. Campbell said during an intermission interview with the CBC that replays were inconclusive and a goal could not be awarded.
Though the nongoal was a source of controversy within the Canadian media, the Flames had not had time to see the replay or chose not to address it after the game.
Sutter said the replays he saw convinced him it was not a goal.
"No, I looked at it, and that's got to be a conclusive play," Sutter said.
"I looked at it at two different angles, and to make that call it has to be conclusive."
Gelinas said he was not aware there was a controversy until asked about it after the game.
"They would have called us back if it was a goal," Gelinas said. "He made the save.
"They have so many cameras they would have called down if it went in."
But what if they got it wrong? What if there were insufficient camera angles.
"That would be pretty tough," Gelinas said. "It would be pretty tough, with just a few minutes left. Shame on them if that's the case."
Lightning forward Tim Taylor didn't think it was a goal to begin with, and saw another problem with the play.
"I thought it was directed in by a skate," Taylor said. "He was going right toward the net and stopping on it. So that wouldn't have been a goal."
Either way, the Eliminator was denied.
- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.