Sharks hand Golden Knights stunning 5-4 OT loss in Game 7, eliminate Vegas from postseason

A controversial penalty in the third period proved to be a series-changing call as the Sharks rallied back from a 3-0 deficit.

In what will go down as one of the craziest games in NHL history, the San Jose Sharks completed an improbable comeback to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 in overtime of Game 7, winning the series 4-3 and eliminating Vegas from the postseason in the process.

Barclay Goodrow scored the game- and series-winning goal 18:19 into overtime to lift the Sharks to victory.

It was a crushing loss for the Knights, who held a 3-1 series lead as well as a commanding 3-0 lead in Game 7.

William Karlsson opened the scoring at 10:10 of the first period, tapping in a rebound to give Vegas a 1-0 lead, and  Cody Eakin doubled Vegas’ lead 10 minutes into the second period. Eakin’s goal was reviewed, though the call on the ice stood.

Marc-Andre Fleury had to be at his best early on to keep San Jose off the board, but he came through time and time again, especially on this sprawling save on the penalty kill early in the first period.

Max Pacioretty gave Vegas a 3-0 lead when he beat Martin Jones five-hole 3:36 into the third period, and it seemed as though Vegas was on its way to an impressive Game 7 victory on the road.

However, that was before a controversial five-minute major assessed to Eakin turned the tide.

The optics on the play were terrible. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski was bleeding and out cold on the ice, and that likely influenced the referees’ ruling. However, as you can see below, Eakin shoved Pavelski following the faceoff, and Pavelski lost his balance.

There was no upper-body contact, it wasn’t a dangerous play and there was no intent to injure. Eakin also clearly did not cross-check Pavelski in the face, which was the explanation given to Vegas during the game, according to Gerard Gallant.

No one wants to see a player down on the ice like that, especially someone like Pavelski, who is respected around the league. But the resulting five-minute major and game misconduct were harsh, to say the least, especially during the third period of a Game 7.

Either way, the penalty turned out to be a series-changing call.

The Sharks rallied behind Pavelski as they proceeded to score four power-play goals.

Logan Couture scored the first goal just seven seconds in, and he immediately geared his teammates up for a comeback.

Tomas Hertl scored 49 seconds later to make it 3-2, and Couture added his second goal to tie the game at 12:53 of the third.

Kevin Labanc, who had a hand in all four goals, gave San Jose its first lead of the game when he scored to make it 4-3 at 13:21.

With Pierre-Edouard Bellemare out of the lineup and Eakin done for the night, Vegas was without two of its best penalty killers on the most critical penalty kill of the season, and San Jose made the Knights pay. The Sharks scored four goals on the man advantage in the span of just four minutes and one second.

In the blink of an eye, the Knights found themselves trailing by one goal with under seven minutes remaining in the game. Some teams may have thrown in the towel, but the Golden Knights kept fighting.

In fact, in thrilling Golden Knights fashion and as part of the insanity that was the third period, Jonathan Marchessault tied the game at 4-4 with just 47 seconds remaining to send this one to overtime.

It’s safe to say there is nothing more exciting in sports than Game 7 overtime hockey, and tonight did not disappoint.

Both teams exchanged glorious chances and both goalies made spectacular saves in exhilarating back-and-forth play.

But in the end, it was Goodrow and the Sharks that found the back of the net.

Goodrow, who played just 7:26 in a game that lasted nearly 80 minutes, raced into the zone, got around Brayden McNabb and slid the puck past Fleury’s outstretched pad as he scored the last goal of the Golden Knights’ 2018-19 campaign.

It capped off San Jose’s third straight win and marked the first time in the series that the team that scored first did not win.

It was a devastating loss for Vegas. There’s no way around that.

But the Sharks deserve credit for mounting an incredible comeback in Game 7 and for climbing back from a 3-1 series deficit.

Yes, the five-minute major swayed the game and changed the series. It was the wrong call, and it’s difficult to get past that considering what transpired as a result.

But tonight’s loss also serves as a painful reminder of missed opportunities. Even with the botched call, the Knights had plenty of chances to win this game and to win this series. The Game 7 stunner was the Knights’ third opportunity to close out a series they led 3-1, and tonight’s result was particularly brutal given the way Game 6 unfolded.

Unfortunately for Vegas, the Knights’ gutsy and impressive performance through 49 minutes wasn’t enough to keep this season alive.

Vegas had aspirations of another deep playoff run; instead, the Sharks will move forward to take on the Colorado Avalanche in the second round as Year 2 for Vegas comes to an end.