April 25, 2019 / 9:08 PM / a month ago

Vegas GM says league apologized for Game Seven officiating blunder

Apr 23, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Hockey pucks lined up before the game between the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights in game seven of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

(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

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