Many Flames fans are certain Calgary should have won Game 6, and hence the Stanley Cup. They believe this because a puck that bounced off the skate of Martin Gelinas appeared to cross the goal line with about eight minutes left in the third period.
Had a goal been awarded, the host Flames would have taken a 3-2 lead. Had Calgary held on, it would have won the series 4-2. As it turned out, no goal was awarded and Tampa Bay won 3-2 in overtime to tie the series at 3.
But an animation shown during ABC's telecast of Game 7 showed the puck may not have completely crossed the goal line before it was kicked out by Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
"We said at the outset it was not 100 percent accurate, but it was a close approximation," said Tim Scanlan, a senior coordinating producer of hockey for ESPN, which produced the animation for ABC. "If nothing else, it demonstrates the NHL was correct when it said it was inconclusive."
Replays seemed to show the puck against Khabibulin's right pad and completely across the goal line. But the goal light did not go on and no referee signaled a goal. The league said because of the angle of the camera and because the puck was on edge and in the air, no conclusion could be drawn.
Scanlan said video editor Ryan Leimbach used a "high-end laptop" and a "3-D animation software package" to construct a model of the play with the intention of proving a goal was scored.
Using the fixed markers of the goal line and the goal post, Scanlan said Leimbach created a 3-D model of the puck as it appeared in the frame being viewed. Scanlan said he was "shocked" at the view from above.
"We were stunned to see the puck, even though it looked over the line (in the original picture) was not," Scanlan said.
Lightning center Tim Taylor always said the point was moot.
"He still directed the puck in the net," he said of Gelinas. "I don't think it would have counted."
Perrin there to cap a dream
Eric Perrin wandered through the Lightning locker room in a daze Monday, his uniform soaked through with champagne, face unbelieving. He and childhood friend Martin St. Louis had dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup thousands of times growing up in Laval, Quebec, but both had shelved that implausible dream long before their careers took different paths after they finished record-setting careers at the University of Vermont. St. Louis went to Calgary, then the Lightning after going undrafted, Perrin through the minors and Finland before the Lightning signed him last June.
"The last time we probably imagined this we were 12 years old," Perrin said. "Then we came to the realization that this really probably would never happen. You just never know. I think we're two guys that work hard all the time to get to this kind of point, and for us to be reunited at a moment like this ... it's something we always dreamed of but we never thought would happen."
Perrin and others scratched Monday were allowed to put on uniforms and skate in the postgame ceremony. This was more than he could have ever expected.
"There are no words for it," he said slowly. "There probably are, but my vocabulary is not that high. Thinking about it is like dreaming."
Dingman fueled by desire to stay on ice
Chris Dingman considers himself a very fortunate lunch-pail kind of guy after winning the Stanley Cup for the second time.
"I'm just a third- or fourth-line guy," said the forward, who won in 2001 with Colorado. "It's unbelievable I'm so lucky. Winning once is tough. Winning twice with two different teams is unbelievable, especially with this team, what they went through and how they came together in the last couple of years."
Dingman's personal reality check is thinking of his old job at a Petro-Canada gas station at home in Edmonton. The idea: work hard or end up back there. Two Stanley Cup rings might at least ensure him a counter job and a respite from the pumps during those nasty Alberta winters.
"Maybe they might have to pay me more to pump gas now," he said.
Players already looking to bright future
Having made the playoffs the past two years, with 18 players younger than 30 and young stars such as Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards under contract beyond this season, the Lightning appears to have the makings of a perennial contender.
Before Game 7, players acknowledged the possibilities.
"I think we have the talent to be a good team for a long time as long as we can keep the team together and keep playing the way we are," defenseman Jassen Cullimore said.
Captain Dave Andreychuk said the team's success this season will only increase its appetite in the future.
"I believe that this is a young team that's on its way up," Andreychuk said. "Obviously, some of our younger guys have taken some huge steps, but I think they've gotten a small taste of what it's really like and I think they'll be even more hungry next year to get back to this situation again.
"Obviously, it starts upstairs with the way they have signed their players and kept their hard-core group together, so I look for good things out of this team for a long time."
Said defenseman Cory Sarich, "We've got a good mix of guys here, so I think there's definitely a chance for us to be a competitive team."
St. Louis salutes fans
Lightning fans who camped out at the St. Pete Times Forum plaza for the 200 $8 tickets that went on sale every game day during the playoffs impressed wing Martin St. Louis.
"More power to them that they can take time out of their lives and camp out there," St. Louis said. "I think they have the same attitude as us. You never know when you're going to get back at this level. It's more than just having good teams. It's staying healthy and getting a few bounces. I think they feel the same way and don't want to miss it."
Odds and ends
Calgary mayor Dave Bronconnier will settle his bet with Tampa mayor Pam Iorio at an 11 a.m. news conference at Shots restaurant at the St. Pete Times Forum. Bronconnier will congratulate Iorio by phone. Big Rock beer and Calgary-made chocolate and sausages will be delivered. ... The series marked the fourth time four consecutive final games were decided by one goal. The others were in 1950 (Red Wings over Rangers); 1951 (Maple Leafs over Canadiens); and 1968 (Canadiens over Blues).