In case you’re wondering: yes, the Vegas Golden Knights are very unhappy about Cody Eakin receiving a game misconduct and five-minute major for cross-checking Joe Pavelski, which opened the door for the San Jose Sharks scoring an staggering four goals on the ensuing power play.
The Sharks would eventually fight back from a 3-0 deficit with that power play, although they needed OT to beat the Golden Knights 5-4, which means the Sharks won the series 4-3.
Here’s the hit, which left Pavelski bleeding, and needing plenty of help to leave the ice surface. (Pavelski didn’t return, and the extent of his injuries remains unknown.)
Whether you believe that was the right call or not, it absolutely swung the game, at least for a time. The Golden Knights were up 3-0, and it seemed like they could weather most things … but a power play that wouldn’t end even if the Sharks scored multiple goals? That wasn’t most things.
Credit the Golden Knights for playing well after the shock of that, even scoring a goal to send Game 7 to overtime, but that doesn’t mean they put that call aside.
The most colorful quotes probably come from Jonathan Marchessault, the player who scored the goal to send the game to overtime, and who had a strong Game 7 overall.
“It’s the same thing as that football game, the Saints, it changes the whole outcome,” Marchessault said, via Sin Bin Vegas’ transcription. “The refs just got involved in the game and now our summer starts. Now five [expletive] months until game one.”
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski has more from Marchessault, though a warning: Marchessault’s comments apparently rank as NSFW and not very family-friendly.
It seems like Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant kept it together a bit more, or at least used more PG-friendly language.
“Last season we lost in the Stanley Cup Final, and that was hard,” Gallant said, according to Jesse Granger of the Athletic. “But tonight, this is worse.”
No doubt, officials will be scrutinized for that call. The NHL might even feel compelled to tweak the way calls are made because of it. That much, we’ll need to wait and see.
Yet, there are some questions from Vegas’ end. Yes, it’s difficult to kill five minutes of power play, especially against a Sharks team that a) is extremely dangerous, b) was furious after seeing Joe Pavelski hurt, c) had already failed on four power plays, and d) smelled blood with its season on the line. Still, should Gallant had called a timeout to try to ease some of the momentum, and calm things down? Could Marc-Andre Fleury have stopped at least one of those four goals? As the anger subsides, the Golden Knights should grapple with some of those questions, even if they leave a bitter taste.
Much like the Rams advancing to the Super Bowl, the Sharks eliminated the Golden Knights and will face the Avalanche in Round 2, whether that finish seems unfair or not. The Golden Knights will have to face bitter months in trying to avenge this loss.
And, true, they might also lose some money if the league decides to fine them for criticizing the officiating.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.