Avalanche's Cale Makar suspended 1 game for late hit on Kraken's Jared McCann

The Colorado Avalanche will be without their star defenseman for a pivotal Game 5 against the Seattle Kraken.

A major penalty assessed to Cale Makar was controversially downgraded to a minor after a late hit on Jared McCann, who left the game injured. (Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche will be without star defenseman Cale Makar for a pivotal Game 5 against the Seattle Kraken Wednesday night.

Makar was suspended one game for interference on Tuesday for a late hit on Kraken forward Jared McCann in Game 4 after the puck went out of play on an Avalanche power play. After officials reviewed the major, it was controversially downgraded to a minor penalty.

In a video explaining their ruling, the NHL stated that McCann was in "no way eligible to be checked on the play" and the hit was finished well outside the allowable window. The NHL department of player safety also said the onus is on Makar to ensure the puck is nearby before initiating contact after the defenseman claimed following Monday's game that he thought the puck was going to end up in the corner.

As you can see from the video below, the hit was egregiously late and away from the puck.

McCann was visibly shaken and spent a few minutes on the ice before he was helped to the bench and down the hallway to the locker room.

Makar avoided an ejection, giving him an opportunity to help the Avalanche try to stage a comeback against the Kraken, who took a 2-0 lead into the second period.

Fans online were less than enthused with the decision to keep the reigning Conn Smythe winner in the game after the dirty play.

McCann did not return to the game and has already been ruled out for Game 5.

The 26-year-old put together the best season of his career in 2022-23, scoring 40 goals (he’d never reached 30 before) and 70 points (surpassing his previous career-high of 50). McCann was the team’s leader in points and easily the best goal-getter, with Matthew Beniers a decent second on the Kraken with 24 tallies. While McCann isn’t a superstar like Makar, he is the Kraken’s leading scorer, and thus would be a big loss.

Makar, 24, is certainly not known for physical play. He’s never been suspended at the NHL level, though he’s not totally shy from contact (credited with 254 hits in 238 career regular-season games).

The underdog Kraken have made life difficult for the Avalanche and head back to Denver with the series tied 2-2.