What looked like what was going to be a relatively easy Vegas Golden Knight win against the San Jose Sharks took a drastic turn.
The Knights were leading 3-0 against the Sharks when a massively controversial call against Cody Eakin midway through the third period triggered a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct.
The penalty happened on a faceoff in San Jose’s offensive zone when Eakin cross-checked Pavelski in the chest. Paul Stastny then hit Pavelski as he fell to the ice, his helmet slamming down. Pavelski appeared to be knocked out and blood poured out of his mouth that was already injured after taking a puck to the face while scoring a goal in Game 1. The officials huddled and a dazed Pavelski was helped to the locker room.
The Sharks scored four goals on the ensuing power play to take a 4-3 lead.
“I’m sure you’ve all seen it on TV,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “There was no intent. I feel awful Joe got hurt. He’s a class player. Everybody loves him. But there was no intent. There was no high-stick that hit him in the face. When Stastny came out, he (Pavelski) sort of got caught up and fell and banged his head on the ice. That’s the unfortunate part of that.
“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.”
Jonathan Marchessault tied the game in the final minute of regulation, but Barclay Goodrow completed the Sharks’ rally from a 3-1 series deficit late in the first overtime when he beat Marc-Andre Fleury for the winning goal.
After the Sharks’ 5-4 overtime win Marchessault didn’t hold back when talking about the penalty.
“I really hope Joe Pavelski is OK,” Marchessault told the media in San Jose. “You never want to see something bad like that happen, but it’s a f—ing joke. You called five minutes for that? Why don’t you have a replay for that? Changed the whole outcome of the game.
“Seriously, what is that? So disappointed. They’re trying to get involved in the game. The game’s not even close. Call a two [-minute penalty], but a five for something you don’t even see and just call the outcome? It’s a f—ing joke. It’s embarrassing.”
Marchessault was asked then if the game was stolen from them.
“If it was stolen? Yeah, it was 3-0 with what, 10, 12 minutes left? They scored four goals on the power play,” Marchessault said. “They came up clutch. They feed off the bad call, and they came back, 4-3, got the big goal in overtime.
“Gotta give them credit at some point. They’re a great hockey team, but it’s embarrassing.”
The Sharks move on to face the Colorado Avalanche, game 1 takes place Friday in San Jose.