Panthers’ Maurice: ‘We’ll bring in the CIA’ to examine close offside call

Watch as the Florida Panthers are dealt a serious blow in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, with Aleksander Barkov's apparent goal being erased after Edmonton Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch successfully challenges the play for offsides.

Just when the Florida Panthers thought they had shifted momentum on Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, the dreaded coach’s challenge pumped the breaks.

Immediately after the Edmonton Oilers scored their second of the night to take a 2-0 lead, Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov cut the lead in half with a potentially game-changing goal in the second period.

Or so he thought.

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Immediately, the Oilers’ video coaches were sounding the alarm, and bench boss Kris Knoblauch called for an offside review. After a lengthy meeting between officials, replays showed that as Carter Verhaeghe was carrying the puck over the blue line, Sam Reinhart had already fully crossed into the offensive zone. By the slimmest of margins, the Panthers’ goal was called back, and the Oilers’ two-goal lead restored.

This is the fourth offside review brought on by coach’s challenges of the post-season, and coaches have a 3-1 win rate, according to The Athletic‘s Shayna Goldman. Knoblauch and his video crew were undefeated on offside challenges in the regular season, going 4-0.

Since there was no offside call on the ice, the standard to overturn is high. The on-ice officials and the NHL Situation Room had to determine that the play was definitively offside in order for the goal to be called back.

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.

“The linesperson informed me that it was the last clip that they got where they made the decision that shows it’s offside, I don’t have those,” Maurice said after the game, which the Panthers lost 5-1. “I was upset after the call based on what I see at my feet, what my video person looks at. There was no way I would have challenged that if it was reversed.

“We’ll get still frames, we’ll bring in the CIA, we’ll figure it out. But in the 30 seconds that I would have made that call, I would not have challenged.”

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Verhaeghe, speaking to reporters after the game, appeared less diplomatic than his coach when asked what he thought of the overturned goal.

“I’m sure they got the right call if they’re watching a million replays.”

Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch saw things a different way.

“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 credited video coach Noah Segall and video and coaching analytics co-ordinator 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,” defenceman 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.”

The Oilers, after going down in the Stanley Cup Final 3-0 to the Panthers, are in the process of a historical comeback, winning Games 4 and 5 to claw back to competition. Should they complete the reverse sweep, they would be the first team since the 1942 Maple Leafs to do so.

Game 7 will take place on Monday.

With files from The Associated Press

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