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NHL apologizes to Golden Knights for controversial Game 7 call


Jeff Chiu/AP

Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury reacts with right wing Alex Tuch (89), defenseman Brayden McNabb (3) and center William Karlsson (71) after losing to the San Jose Sharks during overtime of Game 7 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

Game 7: VGK Lose To Sharks In OT

San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski, right, lies on the ice next to Vegas Golden Knights center Cody Eakin during the third period of Game 7 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Launch slideshow »

The debate over the penalty call at the end of Game 7 hasn’t begun to die down. Not even close.

The Golden Knights thought it was the wrong call to issue Cody Eakin a major penalty on which the Sharks rallied to take the lead. It seems the league agrees.

Team owner Bill Foley said he received a call Wednesday morning from a league official who is “about as senior as you can get” to apologize for the game-changing call.

“It was a bad call; it was a mistake; we recognize the mistake, and we acknowledge it,” the official said, according to Foley.

“I did feel a little better after that,” Foley said. “Maybe it calmed me down a little bit.”

Foley said he is planning on leading the charge for having such plays reviewable. He thinks the coach should be able to challenge major penalties, particularly in the third period and in playoff games.

The Golden Knights led 3-0 with 10:47 remaining in the game. Eakin cross-checked Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, who hit the ice hard and left the game with a head injury.

Referees handed Eakin a major penalty and a game misconduct, and the Sharks scored four goals in 4:01 before winning in overtime.

“It was infuriating,” Foley said. “The game was over. It was ours.”

The Golden Knights had their exit interviews and locker clean-out today, with the call still fresh in their minds. Players alternated between frustration and resignation discussing the play, with some agreeing that expanded replay would be beneficial.

Perhaps a replay would have given the Golden Knights a minor penalty, ending the Sharks’ power play after Logan Couture’s first goal, when Vegas led 3-1 with 10:40 to play. Nothing will change now, of course, and dwelling on it will only slow the process of players and the team putting it behind them.

“Everyone saw the play and knows what happened, and we can’t think about it anymore,” Eakin said. “Mistakes were made, but it’s a fast game you know, and that kind of stuff happens. That’s all you can say about it.”

Eakin didn’t know what was happening at the time. He went to the box and when the referees came to eject him, he thought they decided he wasn’t getting a penalty and started to head back to the bench before they told him their ruling.

Coach Gerard Gallant said he didn’t talk to Eakin after the play and approached him in the lunch room Thursday before Eakin cut him off and said he was fine.

Forward Alex Tuch said there was not much to say to Eakin, and everyone reiterated that no one on the team blames him.

Forward Jonathan Marchessault, who made waves Tuesday night by calling the ruling “a (expletive) joke, he had no regrets about his remarks.

He commended the league for apologizing for the call, though he said it didn’t make much of a difference. “It doesn’t make it better. We’re still here today,” he said.

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