Golden Knights’ Season Ends on a Horrible Call

As fans, we despise when the referees/umpires determine the outcome of a game. We’re always shouting phrases such as, “Let them play!” or “Keep the whistle in your pocket!” Unfortunately, from time to time, our words fall on deaf ears as there will occasionally be that one controversial call that will alter a game/series outcome.

Last night, in a pivotal Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Vegas Golden Knights were on the receiving end of one of these infamous calls, which ultimately led to their defeat and exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With a commanding 3-0 lead in the third period, the beginning of the end for Vegas began during a routine faceoff in their defensive zone.

Knights forward Cody Eakin lost a draw against Sharks forward and captain Joe Pavelski. Eakin then proceeded to crosscheck Pavelski in the chest, knocking him off balance into another Vegas forward, Paul Stastny. Battling for position, Stastny quickly attempted to maneuver around the falling Pavelski, causing him to fall more awkwardly and landing headfirst on the ice.

The play described happened in a matter of seconds, and the result was Pavelski laying on the ice in pain, bleeding heavily from his head. The game was immediately stopped so that the Sharks medical staff could tend to their injured captain.

It was a terrible injury that no player in any sport should ever have to suffer. As a result of this play, the referees handed the harshest punishment to Eakin and Vegas; a five-minute major. San Jose would now have a non-stop powerplay for the next five minutes and they capitalized big-time, scoring four goals to take the lead and the momentum in the game.

After Vegas tied the game with less than a minute to go in regulation, the Sharks would win the game and series in overtime. San Jose will move on to the Conference Semifinals to face the Colorado Avalanche, while Vegas is going home, heartbroken, disgusted, and feeling cheated.

After the game, Vegas players and coaches voiced their disgust in the five-minute major penalty, arguing that it cost them the game, and they may be right.

Now to be fair, the Golden Knights penalty kill was atrocious during the major and because of that, they deserve a ton of blame for the loss. However, with that being said, that major should’ve never happened.

When I think of five-minute major penalties, I think of egregious hits with the intent to injure. Bush league plays initiated by the lowest of scum. I didn’t see that type of play last night.

As serious as Joe Pavelski’s injury was, it was more so caused by a series of unfortunate events rather than an intent to injure from either Cody Eakin or Paul Stastny. Yes, Eakin’s crosscheck caused Pavelski to fall, but it was his encounter with Stastny that caused him to hit the ice the way he did.

At the very least, Eakin or Stastny should’ve been hit with a two-minute minor penalty for crosschecking or interference, respectively. I would even say that it should have been a four-minute double minor because of Pavelski’s bleeding. Regardless of which, the ensuing powerplays would have resulted in a maximum of two goals.

There have already been calls from fans and analysts alike on social media for NHL to make possible majors reviewable. I’m not against it either. If you’re willing to call back goals because a guy was half an inch offsides, you should be able to review a potentially game-altering call.

Vegas has become somewhat of a hated franchise in the NHL given their immediate success out of the gate, but it’s hard to not feel for them in this scenario (unless you’re a Sharks fan). They had a commanding lead and were well on their way to a series win, but were ultimately undone on a controversial call.


Photo: Las Vegas Review-Journal

 

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