Controversial Penalty Leads to Early Exit for Vegas in Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round

Posted on: April 24, 2019, 01:27h. 

Last updated on: April 24, 2019, 01:45h.

There will not be another run to the Stanley Cup Final for Vegas Golden Knights this season.

Barclay Goodrow skates past Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on his way to scoring the game-winning — and series-clinching — goal Tuesday night in San Jose. The game turned on a late penalty against Vegas that allowed the Sharks to erase a 3-0 deficit. (Image: San Jose Sharks)

Last year’s surprise team in the National Hockey League lost 5-4 in overtime Tuesday to host San Jose in a decisive Game 7 of the Western Conference first-round matchup. Losing a Game 7 in overtime can be a heartbreaking way for any season to end, but the way the Golden Knights season came to an end was even more painful.

Vegas led 3-0 lead with just more than 10 minutes to go when Cody Eakin hit Sharks center Joe Pavelski after a faceoff. Pavelski then collided with Vegas forward Paul Stasny before hitting his head hard on the ice.

Pavelski skated off the ice with help from trainers and teammates, bleeding from the side of his head. (WARNING: Video below does show blood on the ice.)

Major Penalty and Implications

After play stopped, the referees met and gave Eakin a major cross checking penalty. That ejected him from the game and gave the Sharks a five-minute power play. San Jose ended up scoring four times with the man advantage to take a one-goal lead.

While Jonathan Marchessault tied the game in the final minute of regulation to force the extra session, Barclay Goodrow’s goal in overtime allowed the Sharks, who once trailed three games to one in the series, to win the series and advance.

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant in his postgame press conference said officials told him that Eakin’s stick hit Pavelski in the head. Replays showed Eakin’s stick striking across Pavelski’s upper chest.

Marchessault was pointed in his postgame remarks, telling reporters the call was “a (expletive) joke,” and added that perhaps officials should use replay to review incidents to make sure they assess the right penalty in those circumstances.

That call changes the whole outcome,” he said. “It changes the whole future of us. The outcome of this year. It’s a joke. I would be embarrassed if I was” a referee.  

Pavelski, 34, led the team with 38 goals in 75 games this season. The team captain also added two goals in the playoff series against Vegas.

Team officials did not have an update on his status after the game. San Jose will face Colorado in another best-of-seven series, which starts Friday night.

Betting Impact

An expansion team in the NHL last season, Vegas made headlines by vastly exceeding expectations. They won 51 games and the Pacific Division title. They also became the first hockey team in 50 years to reach the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.

Last year’s results heightened expectations for this season, and while the Golden Knights weren’t as successful in the regular season, they still finished third in the division. Many experts expected them to be a contender for the Cup.

“Last year, when we were in the Stanley Cup Finals, it was tough to lose,” Gallant told reporters after the game. “Tonight, it was tougher than that. It really was, the way we lost that hockey game.”

Sportsbooks in New Jersey and Nevada predicted a close series, as both the SuperBook in Las Vegas and Fanduel called it a toss-up. In futures betting, the SuperBook had the local team in just its second year at 10-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

With the Golden Knights loss, the top three teams to win the Cup on the SuperBook’s board – Tampa Bay, Calgary, and Las Vegas – all saw their seasons end in the first round.

Meanwhile, San Jose’s odds keep getting better. According to DraftKings, the Sharks were +1150 to win the Cup at the beginning of the season and +1400 at the end of the regular season. When Vegas took a commanding 3-1 series lead, the Sharks odds skyrocketed to +3700.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the New Jersey sportsbook has San Jose at +425.