EDMONTON -- Kris Knoblauch has built a reputation of pushing all the right buttons in the Edmonton Oilers’ 2024 Stanley Cup Playoff run, none bolder than benching goalie Stuart Skinner for two games against the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Second Round.

On Friday, early in the second period of Game 6 of the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final, the Oilers coach may have made the best decision of them all.

With a little help from his friends, of course.

Specifically, video coach Noah Segall and his staff.

In what was a huge turning point in the game — and, maybe, in the end, the entire best-of-7 series — a dramatic coach’s challenge by Knoblauch helped pave the way for the Oilers' 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.

“Gutsy,” Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said.

Not to mention effective.

Indeed, thanks to the Oilers' third consecutive win, the series is now deadlocked at 3-3 heading to Game 7 at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida on Monday (8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS, CBC). Win that one, and Edmonton will join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only teams to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the Final and win a Stanley Cup.

And if that does happen, history will show that the call by Knoblauch was a key moment on the Oilers' road to the title.

The play in question occurred at 56 seconds of the second period, just 10 seconds after Oilers forward Adam Henrique had widened Edmonton’s lead to 2-0. With the crowd still buzzing about the Oilers' second goal, Florida immediately responded with a line rush that resulted in a goal by Aleksander Barkov, instantly siphoning the energy out of raucous Rogers Place and giving momentum to the Panthers with the game now tight at 2-1.

Or so everyone thought.

Not so fast.

Knoblauch and a number of his players felt the play leading up to Barkov’s goal was offside at the blue line. After conferring with his staff, he challenged the play.

Keep this in mind: had he lost the challenge, the Oilers would have been assessed a delay of game penalty. Not only would the Panthers be within one goal, they would also immediately go to the power play.

But he didn’t lose it and, as such, looked like a genius. 


“I actually didn’t think it was that close,” Knoblauch said of the play. “We were going to call it right away but we did have a little time to review it and said 'OK.' Maybe the only hesitation was that maybe there wasn’t the right angle on the video. 

“In my mind it was definitely offside. It was something we wanted to challenge almost immediately when we saw it.”

Panthers coach Paul Maurice wasn’t so sure.

“I have no idea (if they got it right),” he said. “It may well have been offside. The lines person 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. So the video I got on my bench, 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’ve challenged that if it was reversed, there was no way I thought you could conclusively say that was offside. I don’t know what the Oilers get, I don’t know what the league gets. I just know that when I would’ve 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, bring in the CIA, we’ll figure it out. But in the 30 seconds that I would’ve made that call, I would not have challenged.”

Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe probably wished Knoblauch hadn’t.

“It sucks that it didn’t go our way, but that’s above my head,” he said. “I don’t know. They obviously get the right call. I’m sure it was the right call if they’re watching a million replays.”

Down the hall in the victorious Oilers dressing room, forward Zach Hyman was grateful to his coach for having the “guts” — there’s that word again — to challenge the play. Thanks in part to that, Edmonton will live to fight another day, this time with a chance to hoist the Cup once the final horn sounds.

“Huge,” Hyman said. “It changed the momentum of the game.”

And, in the end, maybe of the series too.

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