Montreal center Bobby Smith accused NHL referees of being influenced by the Calgary Flames' complaining about the officiating in the Stanley Cup finals.
"Those referees are human too, they read the papers," Smith said after a 3-2 loss in Game 5 Tuesday night. The loss gave Calgary a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series."Every day it is them crying and crying that Montreal is getting the advantage from the referees. Finally it's paying a dividend for them. They've been doing it since the series started.
"It's obviously a game plan of theirs and after a week of reading it the referees are finally having it sink in."
Referee Kerry Fraser called 13 penalties in Tuesday's game, seven on the Canadiens - including a two-minute interference call on Smith during a Canadiens' power play in the third period. The penalty occurred when Smith collided with Calgary's Joey Mullen.
"I can't disappear," Smith said about the call. "If Joe Mullen was that easy to knock to the ice he wouldn't score a goal all year."
Smith said Fraser missed some obvious high-sticking calls
"We had two guys bleeding in the first period and there's no penalty. (Brian) Skrudland and (Craig) Ludwig were both cut. I don't know what is going on."
He also suggested the Flames purposely knocked the net off its moorings to stop play with eight seconds remaining in the game and the Canadiens pressing for the tying goal.
"The replay shows its true," Smith said. "He doesn't want to call a penalty shot because he knows he'll never hear the end of it."
Fraser was the same referee who called a controversial penalty against Calgary's Mark Hunter late in the second overtime of Game 3, setting up Montreal's winning goal in a 4-3 victory.
Calgary's Al MacInnis laughed off Smith's accusations.
"I don't believe it at all," MacInnis said. "If you look at the stat sheet at the end of the game I think they are pretty even.
"We're not crying to the referee, I think they're doing a pretty good job. I don't think they're favoring any one team."