It was the bloody play that jumpstarted one of the most memorable Game 7 comebacks in recent history. Down 3–0 with less than 11 minutes to play, Joe Pavelski took a face-off in Vegas’s zone where he was cross-checked by Cody Eakin, falling backward into Paul Stastny and then headfirst onto the ice, where he was left motionless.
With blood pouring out of the back of his head, the San Jose captain needed help from trainers and teammates to get off the ice while Eakin was escorted to the box. But did the cross-check warrant a five-minute major? Not according to Pavelski.
“I have no issues with that play,” he told ESPN. “Was it a five-minute major? No. Was I happy they called it that way? Heck yeah. But from that moment on, what the guys did after that in scoring four goals, it was a special night. One of the tougher nights. But one of the better nights."
The Sharks would go on to score four goals on the ensuing power play and eventually win the game in overtime while Pavelski received eight staples in his head to close the “pressure cut” from impact with the ice. The injury wasn't Pavelski's first of the series, scoring the Sharks' first goal in Game 1 with his face. He immediately went to the locker room but returned to the bench with a full face shield, and a few less teeth.
Two days following Game 7, George McPhee said the NHL apologized for the blown call, but that the Golden Knights weren’t going to obsess over it. "With respect to this organization, there will be no pity parties. We're not feeling sorry for ourselves."
Pavelski hasn’t played since the injury on April 23, but is recovering. The 34-year-old center made a surprise appearance during Game 5 in San Jose, waving to the crowd as the Sharks worked toward a 3–2 series lead over Colorado.
He said he will travel with the team for its Game 6 matchup against the Avalanche on Monday, but there still isn’t a timetable for his return. "You'd like to think you can play tomorrow. But we're going to be smart," he told ESPN. "Definitely getting closer."