Thought the NHL has not publicly criticized the referees who made the controversial penalty call in Game 7 of the San Jose-Las Vegas first-round playoff series, they won’t be working the second round. The league has not released the full list as of Thursday night, but Dan O’Halloran and Eric Furlat were not assigned to either the Dallas-St.Louis series or the Columbus-Boston series.
The two were involved in one of the most controversial calls in NHL Playoff history. Midway through the third period, Vegas forward Cody Eakin cross checked Joe Pavelski after a face off. Pavelski, who scored a goal in the opening game when a puck deflected off his face and into the net, fell to the ice and began to bleed from the fall.
Neither O’Halloran or Furlat raised their arm to call a penalty. When play was stopped to attend to Pavelski, the refs huddled and then assessed Eakin with a five-minute major penalty.
The Golden Knights were ahead at the time 3-0. The Sharks, though, were able to rattle off four power-play goals in the five minutes to take a 4-3 lead. Vegas tied the game, but eventually lost in overtime.
Knights Lash Out
With the shock of blowing a three-goal lead with just 10 minutes remaining in the game turning to a sobering reality, some of the players were furious at O’Halloran and Furlat. Forward Jonathan Marchessault
“You never want to see something bad like that happen, but it’s a f—ing joke,” Marchessault told reporters who converged around his locker after the game. “You called five minutes for that? Why don’t you have a replay for that? Changed the whole outcome of the game. Seriously, what is that? So disappointed. They’re trying to get involved in the game. The game’s not even close. Call a two [-minute penalty], but a five for something you don’t even see and just call the outcome? It’s a f—ing joke. It’s embarrassing.”
Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said one of refs tried to explain the call to him.
“They said he cross-checked him across the face, and as we all saw, that didn’t happen,” Gallant said. “There was no high-stick that hit him in the face. When Stastny came out, [Pavelski] fell and banged his head on the ice. That’s the unfortunate part of it. It was an awful call. We’ve all seen it. It’s too bad we end up losing because of that because we’re in control of the hockey game. Last year we lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. Tonight was tougher than that, the way we lost that hockey game.
Mea Culpa Comes Late
The supervising referee for the series, Don Van Massenhoven defended the decision by the referees and said in a statement that it was what they thought was the correct call.
“The referees called a cross-checking penalty for an infraction that caused a significant injury. In their judgment, the infraction and its result merited a major penalty.”
But a day after the game, both general manager George McPhee and owner Bill Foley said they received phone calls from the league offering apologies. Neither man would identify the official, but Foley said the call did make him feel a little better.