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NHL apologizes to Vegas Golden Knights for major penalty call in Game 7

April 25 (UPI) — The NHL issued an apology to the Vegas Golden Knights for a controversial major penalty that led to four power-play goals and an eventual win in Game 7 for the San Jose Sharks.

“The league did reach out and did apologize,” Vegas general manager George McPhee told reporters Thursday. “[The officials] made a mistake and I’m sure they feel bad about it. They want to get things right like we all want to get things right in our jobs.”

The Golden Knights held a 3-0 lead midway through the third period of Tuesday’s final game of the series. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski won a faceoff from Vegas center Cody Eakin, who delivered a cross-check to the chest of Pavelski. He stumbled backward and Vegas forward Paul Stastny knocked him off his skates after a collision.

Pavelski fell and had his helmet slam on the ice. The center was knocked out from the fall and began to bleed. Sharks players gathered around their captain, who gingerly made his way to the training room.

On-ice referees Eric Furlatt and Dan O’Halloran signaled for a penalty as play resumed, but ultimately decided to hand Eakin a major penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct. According to Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant, the officials informed the team’s bench that they believed Eakin hit Pavelski in the head with his stick. Replays confirmed that Eakin made contact with Pavelski’s chest.

The five-minute penalty led to four goals on the same power play by the Sharks to take the lead. San Jose eventually won 5-4 in overtime to advance to the second round.

McPhee said the organization won’t obsess over the controversial penalty call.

“With respect to this organization, there will be no pity parties,” McPhee said. “We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves. Stuff happens in games. We’re going to take the rearview mirror out and move forward and put a real good team on the ice next year. We’re not going to carry around a big suitcase full of yesterdays. That’s not going to happen.”

The Sharks play the Colorado Avalanche in the second round Friday night.

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