The Colorado Avalanche were ruled onside after a Coach’s Challenge by the Edmonton Oilers for offside prior to Cale Makar’s go-ahead goal in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.
Makar intercepted the puck in the neutral zone, crossing the blue line before forward Valeri Nichuskin had cleared the zone. It looked like it was clearly offside. It wasn’t.
Edmonton issued a Coach’s Challenge, charging that the play was offside. The NHL’s Situation Room reviewed the zone entry, in consultation with linesmen Brad Kovachik and Devin Berg. After a few minutes, the Situation Room handed down the verdict: good goal.
How was this determined to be onside?
The puck crossed the line with Nichuskin still in the zone. The catch is that Makar didn’t touch it until after his teammate tagged up, and Makar was still in the neutral zone at the time. Think of it like a delayed offside, which it technically was. We see it every game — players dump the puck in on a delayed offside, guys tag up and then pursue it. This play was a momentary version of that.
From Rule 83.3:
If, during the course of the delayed off-side, any member of the attacking team touches the puck, attempts to gain possession of a loose puck … the Linesman shall stop play for the off-side violation.
While the rulebook does refer to ‘any member’, the application of the rule appears to be limited to just those who preceded the puck into the zone. Earlier in Rule 83.3, the rule references when an “attacking player (or players) has preceded the puck across the attacking blue line” — these are the players who can’t touch the puck, engage a defending player, or attempt to gain possession.
We typically see the NHL apply this in regard to the player who preceded the puck into the zone – in this case, Nichuskin. If this were a dump in and he went for the puck instead of tagging up, it’d be offside. If he went to collect the puck instead of allowing Makar to touch it, it’d be offside. Since Makar was not in the attacking zone, this portion doesn’t apply to him.
Makar – who already had possession of the puck but is still in the neutral zone – delayed long enough on touching the puck to allow the play to be onside.
Here’s the official decision from the NHL:
It was determined that Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin legally tagged up at the blue line before Cale Makar entered the offensive zone with the puck on his stick. Makar made contact with the puck in the offensive zone after Nichushkin was in an on-side position.
This is not a new rule, and it’s not the first time we’ve covered it.
The Arizona Coyotes scored a goal – successfully upheld after a Coach’s Challenge – on a similar play last year.
Boston also managed to stay onside on a similar move by Bruins’ defenseman Charlie McAvoy back in 2020.
The Oilers’ failed challenge ended their offside win streak. Edmonton had been successful in eight straight offside challenges, dating back to May 2021. They went a perfect 8-for-8 on challenges in the regular season. They’re 0-2 in the playoffs.
Referees for the game were Gord Dwyer (#19) and Kelly Sutherland (#11); linesmen were Brad Kovachik (#71) and Devin Berg (#87).