WASHINGTON — The NHL has made clear that the Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins series–one of the best rivalries in hockey–will not devolve into an all-out brawl. Even if that means having a short fuse with arguably unintentional contact.
Early in the first period of Game 3, Pens’ sharpshooter Sidney Crosby was involved in a play deep in the Caps’ zone. As he skated past the right-hand pipes, he was blind-sided by defenseman Matt Niskanen:
At the moment of impact, Crosby had already lost his balance and was skating out of control. Niskanen was approaching from his blind side and made an effort to minimalize the ensuing contact, which hit Niskanen in the midsection.
The aftermath of the play is that Crosby stayed down, crumpled on the ice and had to be escorted back into the trainer’s room, where he almost certainly being tested for another concussion. Niskanen was given a five-minute major and was removed from the game for misconduct.
106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen was outraged by the call and fired off a series of tweets:
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was somewhat less sympathetic to Niskanen’s plight, focusing instead on the loss of Crosby: “It is what it is. He gets hit in the head and we’ll see if he can come back.”
The Caps survived the five-minute power play, and then seized a 1-0 lead on a 5-3 situation later in the first period.