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Up 3-0 with 10 minutes left in the third period of Game 7, the Vegas Golden Knights were in full control.
What followed next was one of the most remarkable, dramatic, and controversial endings to a Stanley Cup playoff game anyone has ever seen.
A series of events left San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski bloodied on the ice — causing him to leave the game — and resulted in a five-minute major penalty for cross checking and a game misconduct to Golden Knights centre Cody Eakin.
It was the wrong call.
Eakin pushed Pavelski in the chest off the draw — something that happens multiple times in every game and always goes uncalled. It caused Pavelski to lose his balance at the same moment that Paul Stastny bumped into him.
Pavelski landed on his head, causing blood to leak from his helmet. It was a scary incident.
The call was the break the Sharks needed.
Seven seconds after the penalty, Logan Couture got the Sharks on the board. It took just another 49 seconds for Tomas Hertl to cut the lead to 3-2.
Suddenly, San Jose was back in the game and they had lots of power play time to work with.
Before the major penalty expired, Couture and Kevin Labanc scored the Sharks’ third and fourth goals on the same man advantage to give San Jose a 4-3 lead.
Not to be outdone, the Golden Knights battled back, tying the game up with 47 seconds left in the third period on a goal by Jonathan Marchessault, silencing Sharks fans who were roaring only minutes earlier.
Overtime ensued, with both teams trading chances.
An unlikely hero emerged, as little-used Barclay Goodrow picked up an Erik Karlsson pass, blew by the Golden Knights defence and tucked the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury for the winner with 2:41 left in the first overtime period.
Goodrow had seen just 7:26 of ice time, so unlike most players in the game, he was fresh.
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The Sharks not only completed a third period comeback, they came back from a 3-1 series deficit that also included a double overtime win in Game 6 — scored shorthanded no less.
After the game, as you can imagine, the Golden Knights had a few opinions about the penalty call that led to their downfall.
There was no malicious intent by either Eakin or Stastny, and had Pavelski not been injured, not only would a penalty not be called — it wouldn’t have even been worthy of a replay on the television broadcast.
After the game, Marchessault let his feelings be known with reporters, as ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski details below.
The full Jonathan Marchessault rant on the Game 7 major penalty called on Cody Eakin in the 3rd period. He said the @GoldenKnights got jobbed like the New Orleans Saints. #NHL @SanJoseSharks pic.twitter.com/uBsXGFAVzM
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) April 24, 2019
“I really hope Joe Pavelski is ok. You never want to see something bad like that happen. But it’s a fucking joke,” Marchessault said. “To call five minutes for that? Why don’t you have a hockey replay or something? It changed the whole outcome of the game. Like, seriously, what is that? It’s so disappointing.
“The game’s not even close. It’s 3-0. Call a [two-minute minor]? Ok. But a [five-minute major penalty]? For something you don’t even see? You just call the outcome. It’s a fucking joke. It’s embarrassing. That’s what it is.”
A penalty was not assessed immediately, and neither referee had his arm raised.
"It's the same thing as that football game, the Saints, it changes the whole outcome. The refs just got involved in the game and now our summer starts. Now five fucking months until game one." -Jonathan Marchessault
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) April 24, 2019
“[Referee Eric] Furlatt said ‘it looks pretty bad.’ If it looks pretty bad, then clearly you did not see it. It’s a faceoff. It’s a push. Probably 50% of the faceoffs, players – if they lose – they probably give a small cross check, right?
“If you want to call the cross check, fine, call it. It’s a cross check. But seriously, he falls bad. It’s unfortunate. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge fan of Joe Pavelski. And he went down, and I really hope he’s ok and he comes back. But that call changes the whole outcome.
“It changes the whole future of us and the outcome this year. It’s a joke. I would be embarrassed if I was them.”
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant was a little calmer during his post-game media conference, though he too was furious with the penalty call.
“They said basically that he crosschecked him across the face, and we all saw that didn’t happen,” said Gallant.
“Last year we were in the Stanley Cup Finals and it was tough to lose. Tonight was tougher than that. It really was, the way we lost that hockey game.
“There was no intent. I feel awful that Joe got hurt. He’s a class player for their team.
“But there was no intent. There was no high stick that hit him in the face.
“It was an awful call, we all saw it. It’s too bad we end up losing because of that. Because we were in control of the hockey game.”
“We should be playing the next game.”
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