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Blackhawks robbed of inspiring victory by officiating gaffe, fall to Bruins in OT

An apparent go-ahead goal by Drake Caggiula with 1:05 left in regulation was wiped out by a hand-pass call, which officials later admitted was a mistake.

Robin Lehner kept the Blackhawks alive for much of Wednesday’s game, but the Bruins still eked out a 2-1 overtime win.
Robin Lehner kept the Blackhawks alive for much of Wednesday’s game, but the Bruins still eked out a 2-1 overtime win.
Nam Y. Huh/AP

Come April, the Blackhawks likely won’t miss the playoffs by a single point.

But if they do, their 2-1 overtime loss Wednesday to the Bruins — very nearly a 2-1 victory in regulation, if not for a crucial officiating gaffe — will be to blame.

Wing Drake Caggiula scored what appeared to be a go-ahead goal with 1:05 left, racing down the left wing, beating Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak with a surprising wrist shot and sending the United Center into its wildest celebration of the season to date.

The celebration, however, was short-lived. The goal immediately was waved off, with referee Peter MacDougall — who had only 83 games of NHL experience before this week — ruling defenseman Olli Maatta, who was lying on the ice after drawing a tripping penalty, hand-passed the puck to Caggiula.

There was one issue, though: The puck clearly touched Maatta’s stick before continuing on to Caggiula, meaning there was actually no hand pass. Captain Jonathan Toews said the referee admitted he made a mistake.

The Hawks still earned a power play from the sequence but never produced a good look on it, and the Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy scored the game-winner on a three-on-one rush shortly after the penalty expired in overtime.

‘‘It’s tough,’’ coach Jeremy Colliton said. ‘‘There will be another night where we come out on the other end of it. These things have a way of evening out. But it’s just disappointing because it would’ve been a big two points for our team.’’

The Hawks were unquestionably outplayed for the vast majority of the game. The shots-on-goal and scoring-chances totals heavily favored the Bruins — 40-22 and 37-21, respectively. For 55 minutes, the Hawks seemed lucky that goalie Robin Lehner’s return to top form had kept them tied.

The final five minutes, however, were marred by controversy. Forward Zack Smith was penalized for a hit to the head on Bruins defenseman Torey Krug, which Krug appeared to dramatize, and center Ryan Carpenter was given a misconduct for yelling at a referee from the bench.

‘‘If it’s a hit to the head, why is [Krug] not going to the quiet room?’’ Toews asked. ‘‘He’s out there on the power play right away. . . . You get hit in the head, that’s tough; you don’t want to see that. But there’s a way you’re supposed to deal with that.’’

‘‘[Carpenter] got cross-checked in the face on the faceoff, and he wasn’t happy about it,’’ Colliton said.

So the Hawks will move on with 58 points rather than 59.

‘‘It’s done,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘You have a conversation with the referee at the time, and they know how we feel. Now we’ve got to prepare for the next one.’’

Boqvist injury not ‘super-serious’

Rookie defenseman Adam Boqvist left the game in the second period after being boarded by Bruins center David Krejci and later was ruled out with an injured right shoulder.

Boqvist, who missed one game after suffering an injury to the same shoulder Dec. 23, went to the locker room with his arm hanging limp after the hit.

Colliton, however, seemed unperturbed after the game.

‘‘I don’t think it’s anything super-serious, but we’ll know more in the next day or so,’’ he said.

If Boqvist misses time, the waiver claim Monday of defenseman Nick Seeler could come in handy. The Hawks also could recall Dennis Gilbert from Rockford again.