The Avalanche won Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final thanks to a game-winning goal from Nazem Kadri in overtime.
Kadri, who was playing for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury after an Evander Kane cross-check in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, got behind the Lightning defense 12 minutes into the overtime period. He made a nice move to his left and beat Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy on his blocker side.
Below is a look at the game-winner, which gave Colorado a 3-1 series lead and a chance to win the Stanley Cup at home in Game 5.
KADRI. AVS WIN IT IN OT 🔥 pic.twitter.com/F0Td2o7ZMx
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) June 23, 2022
As beautiful as Kadri’s goal was, it shouldn’t have counted. Why? Because the Avalanche clearly had too many men on the ice while the play was developing.
As video from ESPN’s SportsCenter shows, Kadri came onto the ice while Colorado already had five skaters on the ice.
— Ben Ross (@BenRossTweets) June 23, 2022
The “too many men” penalty can be a subjective one, as NHL referees do allow skaters some leeway with their changes if they are near their benches and they are not making a play on the puck. Below is the NHL rulebook’s official definition of the penalty.
Players may be changed at any time during the play from the players’ bench provided that the player or players leaving the ice shall be within five feet (5′) of his players’ bench and out of the play before the change is made … When a player is retiring from the ice surface and is within the five foot (5’) limit of his players’ bench, and his substitute is on the ice, then the retiring player shall be considered off the ice for the purpose.
In this instance, however, the player that Kadri subbed on for, Nathan MacKinnon, was nowhere near the bench — or even the five-foot limit — when he came onto the ice. As such, the referees should have stopped play and penalized the Avalanche.
Instead, they let them play on, and Colorado scored the decisive goal. That decision drew the ire of Lightning coach Jon Cooper after the game.
“My heart breaks for the players because we probably still should be playing,” Cooper told reporters at his postgame news conference.
Indeed, the game probably should have continued, but it didn’t. Now, the Lightning will have to regroup ahead of Game 5. They have no margin for error moving forward as they look to win the Stanley Cup for the third consecutive year.