(Reuters) - Vegas Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee said on Thursday the NHL has apologized for a controversial penalty that ultimately led to his team’s elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Vegas were leading San Jose 3-0 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation of the decisive seventh game to their first-round series on Tuesday when Cody Eakins was handed a five-minute penalty for cross-checking Sharks captain Joe Pavelski.
San Jose responded with four goals on the ensuing power play and ultimately prevailed 5-4 in overtime.
“The league did reach out and apologize,” McPhee told reporters. “They made a mistake and I’m sure (the officials) feel bad about it. They want to get things right like we all do when we’re doing our jobs.”
The incident happened right off a faceoff when Eakins cross-checked Pavelski in the chest, knocking him off balance before a bump from another Vegas player sent him down head first into the ice, where he laid motionless and bleeding for several moments.
In terms of hockey plays the cross-check was fairly routine and neither official signaled for a penalty and the play carried on but they eventually decided Eakins deserved a five-minute penalty and game misconduct.
The series supervisor later said the major penalty was given because the cross-check caused a significant injury but the Golden Knights felt the call was excessive and that perhaps a two-minute penalty might have been more fair.
“Seriously. What is that? It’s so disappointing,” Vegas winger Jonathan Marchessault said after Tuesday’s game.
“The game is not even close, it’s 3-0. Call the two, OK, but a five? With something you don’t even see? You just called the outcome. It’s a joke, that’s what it is. It’s embarrassing.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis