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.
Barclay Goodrow wins it in OT pic.twitter.com/yA7OpHvkAG
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 24, 2019
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?
Cody Eakin given five-minute major for this cross-check on Joe Pavelski. Sharks scored three straight times on ensuing power play pic.twitter.com/VlKFq27AtK
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) April 24, 2019
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.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 24, 2019
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.
Here is the explanation of the penalty on Cody Eakin from series supervisor Don vanMassenhoven:
“The referees called a crosschecking penalty for an infraction that caused a significant injury. In their judgment, the infraction and its result merited a major penalty.”
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) April 24, 2019
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.
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