Cody Eakin talks about controversial penalty, vows Knights will ‘be back’ — VIDEO

Golden Knights center Cody Eakin addresses the media at City National Arena on Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye Las Vegas Review-Journal) Knights center Cody Eakin enters team‘s locker room to address the media at City National Arena on Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Golden Knights center Cody Eakin was more confused than angry in the moments immediately following the most consequential call in franchise history.

After the referees placed him in the penalty box midway through the third period of Tuesday night’s Game 7 in San Jose for a cross-checking major, he was relieved when one of them skated over and ushered him out.

“I thought ‘OK, they just reviewed it and realized it wasn’t a penalty so I’ll head back to the bench,’” Eakin said Thursday in his first public comments since the Knights were eliminated. His subsequent major and agame-misconduct penalty spurred a historic comeback — all for hitting Sharks captain Joe Pavelski in the chest.

“I just lost a faceoff and tried to get the guy out,” Eakin said of Pavelski, who ended up getting bumped by Paul Stastny as he stumbled back and suffering a cut on his head as well as a possible concussion. “(It was) an unfortunate fall. That’s it.

“It’s one of those things that he was off balance and ended up going down the wrong way. I hope all the best for him and I hope he’s all right, but it’s just an unfortunate fall.”

The officials didn’t let Eakin return to play. Instead, he was ejected and had to watch the Sharks score four times with the resulting man-advantage on a television screen in the locker room. He was still tuned in when the Sharks scored in overtime.

It was not the ending to the season Eakin envisioned, particularly after his goal helped the Knights build a 3-0 lead with 11 minutes left in regulation time.

“It sucks your season is over,” Eakin said. “It sucks for us. It sucks for the league, it sucks for the city.

“But we’ll be back.”

The Knights rallied to tie the game when Jonathan Marchessault scored with less than a minute remaining, but Eakin elected to not speak to the team between the third period and the overtime session.

“I stayed out,” Eakin said. “I was pacing back and forth for about the rest of the time. I let the guys do what they had to do and be in the right mindset. I kept my distance.”

Coach Gerard Gallant said he hadn’t spoken with Eakin until he saw him at the team facility on Thursday morning.

“We left him alone,” Gallant said. “I said, ‘Cody…’ and he said, ‘Turk, I’m fine. I know I didn’t do anything wrong’ so he said, ‘I’m fine. I can move on and go from that.’ You felt bad for Cody, but he’s fine and he’s ready to go again.

“Nobody’s blaming Cody Eakin, obviously.”

His teammates were unwavering in their support, and owner Bill Foley said the league even for making the wrong call on the play.

“No one had to tell him. He knew,” Marchessault said. “He has nothing to do with that. He was just in a bad spot at the wrong time.”

Eakin said messages even came from around friends, family and former teammates around the league.

“There’s lots of support,” he said. “Lots of messages and stuff. But it’s pretty black and white. There wasn’t too much (gray) area.”

Eakin is looking forward to starting next season, but hopes to enjoy the early start to summer as much as possible.

He will have to do it while trying to get past an unsettling feeling about his last moment on the ice this season.

“I feel like we got robbed a little bit,” he said. “But it’s just the way it went. It’s sports.

”We’re all here because we’re chasing the same goal, and we’ll be that much more motivated and excited to come back.”

Adam Hill at Follow on Twitter.