The decision to give Eakin a five-minute major and a game misconduct was extremely questionable, and altered the series outcome. During the penalty, San Jose's captain, Joe Pavelski, was on the receiving end of the dirty hit, sending him to the ice, knocked out and bloody, after his head slammed violently against the unforgiving surface.
An unlikely hero emerged, as little-used Barclay Goodrow picked up an Erik Karlsson pass, blew by the Golden Knights defence and tucked the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury for the victor with 2:41 left in the first overtime period.
"It nearly made you cry, because we love him so much", said Thornton, who held a towel to Pavelski's bleeding head as he helped him to the dressing room.
In another unbelievable turn of events, the Golden Knights tied it up with 47 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
Ecstasy, agony, pure joy, disbelief, anger, frustration, we saw all of those emotions and more on show when the San Jose Sharks came back from the dead to snatch Game Seven from the jaws of defeat and absolutely stun the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Colorado Avalanche await, fresh off dispatching the top-seeded Calgary Flames in a five-game, first-round series.
Just when the Vegas Golden Knights looked like they had punched their ticket to the second round, a critical call by the referee punched them in the gut. Making matters worse, Couture was also given a penalty on the play and Vegas scored to take a 4-3 lead on the ensuing power play. They are not subject to video review, which is limited to the puck going in or not on a goal or coach challenges for goaltender interference or offside, which have been around the past four seasons.
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The Knights were none too pleased about the five minute major to Eakin that cost them the game and the series. It was the third-latest tying goal in a Game 7 in National Hockey League history.
But a Stanley Cup title remains elusive for the Sharks, who lost the Cup final to Pittsburgh three years ago, lost three other times in the conference finals and painfully blew a 3-0 series lead to Los Angeles in 2014. Tomas Hertl tipped in an Erik Karlsson shot from the point to make it 3-2 49 seconds later. It's so disappointing. The game's not even close. While the penalty on Eakin was a controversial one, the NHL's statement on the call noted that severity of the injury inflicted to Pavelski warranted the call.
Now trailing with 6:39 remaining in the game, the Golden Knights seemed to have their season taken away from them based on this call. But that call changes the whole outcome.
Eakin's crosscheck deserved a two-minute minor, though it's one of those penalties that frequently goes uncalled off of faceoffs, particularly in the playoffs. But a five? For something you don't even see?
The Sharks would eventually fight back from a 3-0 deficit with that power play, although they needed OT to beat the Golden Knights 5-4, which means the Sharks won the series 4-3.
Whether you believe that was the right call or not, it absolutely swung the game, at least for a time.