Talk about a major mea culpa!
The National Hockey League has apologized to the Vegas Golden Knights for the controversial penalty call that happened in the 3rd period of their Game 7 matchup against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
With just over 10 minutes to play in the game and Vegas leading by a 3-0 score, San Jose captain Joe Pavelski was cross-checked by Vegas forward Cody Eakin, and then bounced off of Paul Stastny before falling to the ice and injuring his head. Initially, no penalty was called on the play, but after seeing Pavelski’s bloody head and his having to be assisted off the ice, the officials conferred and then assessed a major 5-minute penalty to Eakin, along with a game misconduct.
What followed was one of the more stunning comebacks in NHL history as the Sharks scored a record four power-play goals on the major penalty to take the lead. Though Vegas would tie the score in the final minute, San Jose would eventually win in overtime and advance to the second round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Vegas is now facing an early summer.
Vegas owner Bill Foley said the NHL reached out to the Golden Knights and apologized for the botched call that changed the outcome of the series, saying whom he spoke to was “about as senior as you can get”.
“The game was ours, it was over, 3-zip,” Foley said Thursday (via the AP). “We were looking, saying, ‘All we gotta do is play some defense, play defense and stay out of the box.’ Within 30 seconds, 5-minute major. It wasn’t a penalty. Painful.”
Afterwards, head coach Gerard Gallant said the officials were also incorrect in their explanation of the penalty to him.
“They said he cross-checked him across the face, and as we all saw, that didn’t happen,” Gallant said (via ESPN). “There was no high stick that hit him in the face.
“When Stastny came out, [Pavelski] fell and banged his head on the ice. That’s the unfortunate part of it. It was an awful call,” the coach continued. “We’ve all seen it. It’s too bad we end up losing because of that, because we’re in control of the hockey game.”