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Vegas Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin caught a break when his goal was allowed after a review couldn’t determine if he deflected the puck in with a high stick.
But his stick work later in Tuesday’s Game 7 ended up costing his team when he was ejected in the third period for cross-checking Joe Pavelski. That allowed the San Jose Sharks to engage in a furious rally that turned a big deficit into a lead and an eventual 5-4 overtime win on a Barclay Goodrow goal.
Eakin got hit with a disputed five-minute major and a game misconduct when he struck the Sharks captain with a two-hander to the chest during a faceoff. Paul Stastny also shoved Pavelski, who fell to the ice and hit his head.
He was on the ice for several minutes before finally being helped out as trainers held a towel to his bleeding head.
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The injury fired up the Sharks, who were trailing 3-0 at the time but scored four times on the power play.
Logan Couture scored off the ensuing faceoff, and Tomas Hertl, Couture again and Kevin Labanc scored within about four minutes of power play time for a 4-3 lead with 6:39 left in the game.
“The group rallied,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told reporters. “Joe Thornton spoke up. Logan Couture. I think they saw a guy they love and respect in some distress and wanted to go what they could to help the situation, which was try and get some goals and get us back in the game. And they did that.”
Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault, though, scored with 47 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime.
Goodrow scored at 18:19 of overtime when he broke in alone on Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury after a nice feed from Erik Karlsson.
That ended the season of the Golden Knights, who reached the Stanley Cup Final last season as an expansion team and held a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said he was sorry to see Pavelski get hurt, but he disagreed with the penalty call.
“There was no intent. There was no high stick to the face,” he told reporters, adding, “It was an awful call. We all seen it. It’s too bad we end up losing like that because we were in control of the hockey game.”
The Sharks will face the Colorado Avalanche in the second round, starting Friday in San Jose.