Antoine Vermette's Dive Crucial in Phoenix Coyotes' 3-2 Win Over Pittsburgh Penguins

By Shane Darrow
Getty Images
Getty Images

There was a lot of action in Tuesday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Phoenix Coyotes. Taylor Pyatt scored against his former team after his best shift of the year, Tanner Glass laid a devastating hit midway through the third period on Zybnek Michalek, and the Coyotes buzzed around the Penguins’ net all night, which led to two of their goals in the victory.

The final two minutes of the game also included some heavy pressure from the Penguins, which was highlighted by a magnificent sliding save from Coyotes goaltender Thomas Greiss.

But the biggest moment of the game was when Jussi Jokinen retaliated after being ran in the corner from behind (legally, I might add) by lightly slashing Antoine Vermette in the back of the right leg. Vermette didn’t just motion like he had been slashed, but completely went down to the ice on all fours.

It’s obvious what Vermette was doing – he was waiting for a retaliation after physically owning Jokinen in the corner. In this case, it worked.

I’m not saying that the play didn’t warrant a penalty from Jokinen because it did, and it’s an aspect of the game that the Penguins need to find a way to stop doing regularly, but with the referee in perfect position to see the play, he should have automatically issued an embellishment penalty to Vermette as well. It’s a difficult judgment call that puts referees in a difficult situation most of the time, but after seeing the replay in real speed, it was very obvious that the light slash shouldn’t have created such an animated reaction.

It was 2-2 at the time, and Mikkel Boedker scored what would end up being the deciding goal as time expired on the power play. When the night was over, the Penguins were called for five penalties to the Coyotes one.

I’m not saying Vermette’s dive is the reason why the Penguins lost; I’m saying that the proper call needs to be made in that situation.

The Penguins had their chances not only to tie the game in regulation, but to win it as well. They failed to bury the puck when given their opportunities in the final two periods and that was their ultimate demise. Greiss deserves an unlimited amount of praise for stepping up and playing the way he did for the Coyotes, who were playing without Mike Smith – the leader in games played this season among goaltenders.

But the way the game-winning goal was scored is sure to leave a sour taste in the mouths of Penguins fans.

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