Knoblauch, Oilers successfully challenge for offsides, wiping out apparent Panthers goal


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EDMONTON, Alberta — Kris Knoblauch continues to make all the right moves on the Edmonton Oilers' run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The coach who took over in November successfully challenged a goal by the Florida Panthers at a crucial juncture of Game 6 of the final. The offside call took a goal by Aleksander Barkov off the board 10 seconds after Adam Henrique scored to give the Oilers a 2-0 lead, a turning point in the game they won 5-1.

"The offside call, it's a nice break to go our way, for sure," forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "At the end of the day, he's got to make the call, so it's probably a little stressful to make that call at that time of game."

Officials in consultation with the NHL's situation room in Toronto found Sam Reinhart was in the zone maybe an inch before Barkov carried it in. The sellout crowd of over 18,000 roared when Chris Rooney announced that the play was offside and waved off the goal.

"I actually didn't think it was that close," Knoblauch said. "In my mind it was definitely offside, but I guess you never know. It was something I wanted to challenge almost immediately when I saw it."

Knoblauch all playoffs has pushed the right buttons, whether it be a goaltending change in the second round or tweaking his lineup throughout. Had the challenge been unsuccessful, by league rules Edmonton would have gotten a two-minute minor penalty and put Florida on the power play with the chance to tie it.

"It was very tight," center Leon Draistailt said. "I personally thought it was the right call, but you never know. Knobber has the right touch. He knows what he's doing, and he seems to make the right decisions a lot more often than not. That was a big one."

Knoblauch credited video coach Noah Segall and video and coaching analytics coordinator Mike Fanelli for their role in the decision.

"The guys in the back room, I've sat back there and watched them do their job," defenseman Darnell Nurse said. "They're so to the point and analyzing everything. Obviously, they were very confident and they made the right call. It was a huge point for us."

Panthers coach Paul Maurice did little to hide his disbelief when the goal was taken down, screaming at officials from his spot behind the Florida bench. Afterward, he said he was upset initially because he did not see the angle that the league and officials got to overturn the goal.

"The linesperson informed it was the last clip that they got where they made the decision that it shows it's offside," Maurice said. "I don't know what the Oilers get. I don't know what the league gets. I just know that when I would have had to have challenged that based on what I saw, I would not have challenged. I'm not saying it's not offside. We'll get still frames, we'll bring in the CIA and we'll figure it out, but in the 30 seconds that I would have made that call, I would not have challenged it."

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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Stephen Whyno

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