Flames' Milan Lucic ejected for hit on Oilers goalie Mike Smith

·3 min read
Milan Lucic (17) hit the showers early in Game 3. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Milan Lucic (17) hit the showers early in Game 3. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith loves to handle and play the puck behind his own net. But when he pulled away from his cage during the third period of Game 3 of the second-round series against the Calgary Flames on Sunday, he was run over by Milan Lucic.

It appears Lucic slowed down before he collided with Smith but the goalie unfortunately fell awkwardly into the boards, losing his helmet on contact and then getting caught under the pile as his Oilers teammates rushed into a scrum.

The officials broke up the melee and sent Lucic to the Flames’ dressing room, later assessing him with a charging major and a game misconduct.

Smith was getting checked out by trainers and wanted to remain in the contest, especially since he was fighting for another playoff shutout with his Oilers leading 4-0 at the time, but he was removed from the game to undergo testing for a concussion. Backup Mikko Koskinen stepped on the ice to take over.

Reaction to the hit is mixed, as some argue Lucic slowed down and attempted to minimize the contact on Smith, though others refuse to believe that based on his reputation.

In his post-game press conference, Flames head coach Darryl Sutter expressed his disagreement with Lucic’s charging penalty, and thinks the one-sided score of the game and the player's history influenced the call.

“Could you imagine if Looch did charge what would have happened there?" Sutter said. "He actually tried to slow it down there I think, but it is what it is.

It was the second straight night the Stanley Cup Playoffs featured a goalie-related incident. In Saturday’s 5-2 Colorado Avalanche victory, Nazem Kadri’s collision with Blues blueliner Calle Rosen ended with a hit on St. Louis netminder Jordan Binnington, who left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury and never returned.

In a surprising turn of events in Edmonton, Smith did return for the last six minutes of the third period after a four-minute absence. Before his exit, Smith had stopped all 27 shots he faced. He eventually lost his shutout bid thanks to Oliver Kylington's first career playoff goal. As for Lucic, he ended the game at minus-one in 7:47 of ice time.

After the game, Smith admitted that he wasn’t sure exactly what took place when Lucic ran him over.

“One minute I'm playing the puck and the next I’m getting buried," Smith said.

When all was said and done, the Oilers won 4-1 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Game 4 will go Tuesday night in Edmonton.

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