As the final horn approached in a 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday, Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom watched Rich Peverley trip teammate Alex Ovechkin. But he went over the line with a cross-check to Peverley’s face in retaliation. That earned Washington’s star center a match penalty. Most reporters, on deadline and already headed to the locker room, missed the play and the subsequent ruling so Backstrom was not asked what he was thinking. The NHL Rule Book is pretty clear on this one:
Rule 21 – Match Penalties
21.1 A match penalty involves the suspension of a player for the balance of the game and the offender shall be ordered to the dressing room immediately. A match penalty shall be imposed on any player who deliberately attempts to injure or who deliberately injures an opponent in any manner.
Now, this is still a subjective call. The league office will automatically suspend the player and review the play on the ice before deciding whether to uphold the suspension. Needless to say, that would be a devastating turn of events for the Caps in a critical Game 4. So we had to get the coaches’ take on that, instead, and will catch Backstrom on Tuesday or Wednesday for an explanation.
“They give him a match, but I think the league will review it and rescind it,” Caps coach Dale Hunter said. “If you see it, it's not bad.”
Boston coach Claude Julien wasn’t seething over the play or anything. But he did take the opportunity to lobby for some supplemental discipline for the second time in as many games.
“I think it's normal that there's some intensity. The rivalry is getting better and bigger as we move forward here,” Julien said. “You understand that those kind of things are going to happen. I guess the only thing that's a little disappointing for me is the fact that this is the third time in three games that our players have been cross-checked in the face. We saw the one on [David] Krejci where he was cut in Game 1 and Ovechkin on [Dennis] Seidenberg in Game 2, and now Backstrom.”
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