Controversial penalty leads to insane finish to Golden Knights-Sharks series

Down 3-0 in the third period of Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights, the San Jose Sharks should have been done. The game should have been over.

However, after scoring four goals on a five-minute major and game misconduct levied upon Vegas’ Cody Eakin to grab a 4-3 lead and nearly wrap up the series by the same score, they had new life.

In an insane series of events that followed, Jonathan Marchessault knotted the contest up at four with only 47 seconds remaining in the third period.

That set up the completion of one of the craziest comebacks in recent memory. With 1:41 left in the first overtime, Barclay Goodrow found the back of the net to give the Sharks the miraculous 5-4 victory.

But while San Jose celebrated, people like myself looked back at that pivotal play in the third period. Did Eakin’s actions actually warrant the harsh, series-shattering penalty?

Yes, Eakin gave Joe Pavelski a pretty good cross-check to the chest following a face-off with 10:47 remaining in the third period. And yes, the awkward way that Pavelski hit the ice after colliding with Vegas’ Paul Stastny was ugly.

After twisting and turning in the air before his head made primary contact with the ice, multiple Sharks teammates needed to help their captain into the locker room.

It’s a sight that you never want to see. But, is that truly a play worthy of a major penalty?

Whether you’re a Sharks fan or not, there’s no way you can be completely confident in that decision by the officials. That’s simply a man that lost his balance following some contact. It’s a play that happens countless times per game. The outcome this time around just so happened to result in a serious injury.

Following the game, Vegas’ head coach Gerard Gallant voiced his displeasure about how things unfolded for his team in the third period to the media.

“I feel awful that Joe (Pavelski) got hurt…,” he said. “But, there was no intent. There was no high stick that hit him in the face. When (Paul) Stastny (came) out, they sort of got caught up and he fell and banged his head on the ice. So, that was the unfortunate part of it. It was an awful call. We all have seen it. It’s too bad, you know, that we end up losing because of that because we were in control of the hockey game.”

Marchessault, meanwhile, was a little more direct while addressing what happened.

“It’s a f—king joke,” the 28-year-old forward said during a rant after the loss, according to Jesse Granger of The Athletic. “It’s embarrassing. That’s what it is. It changed the entire outcome of the game, and the season.”

While that’s how a few members of the Golden Knights’ side of the equation saw it, this is what the series supervisor had to say about the penalty.

Regardless, the “hockey gods” didn’t allow that one call to determine the series.

Marchessault’s tally late in the third provided Vegas with the opportunity to redeem themselves in overtime and they weren’t able to beat Sharks goaltender Martin Jones once again when they needed to.

It just makes you wonder how different things could have been if Eakin only received a two-minute minor on that play or, dare I say it, no penalty at all.

San Jose’s Joe Pavelski receives treatment on the ice after being injured in the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

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