Hockey is becoming increasingly less violent. Head shots are punished, fighting is going extinct, and speed and skill are becoming paramount. Nevertheless, there’s still a place for a good open-ice hit, like the one Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen delivered on JT Brown in the third period of Friday’s grand comeback. The Lightning took exception to the hit, which knocked Brown’s helmet off. The testy nature led to a Capitals power power that tied the game, completing the rally.
“That happens a lot now nowadays unfortunately,” Niskanen said of Tampa’s reaction. “Everyone everywhere says they want good clean checks, but then they want you to answer for it. It’s understandable. We do it too. We get riled up if someone gets hit pretty hard. But it’s a hockey game.”
In a game with eight goals, Niskanen’s hit was instrumental in Washington’s victory. Washington had just pulled within one goal when TJ Oshie scored mere seconds after Philipp Grubauer made an amazing pad save to keep the game within reach.
“We were coming on pretty hard,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “It was sort of a compound of all those things.”
The Capitals went on the score three goals after the Niskanen hit, beating the Lightning 5-3.
“Being a top team in the league, teams are kind of scared to let us get momentum, and that’s what happened.” forward Michael Latta said. “When Nisky makes that hit, not only does that give us energy but they unravel as a team.”
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