Tuesday afternoon, the NHL announced a one-game suspension for Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. The linchpin of Pittsburgh’s blueline delivered a head shot to Capitals forward Marcus Johansson in Washington’s offensive zone during the first period. Letang was given a two-minute minor penalty for interference.
Johansson left the game and returned at the start of the second period, playing over 18 minutes. He passed concussion tests, but complained of neck pain. Tuesday morning, Johansson was held out of practice due what the Capitals termed an upper-body injury.
The Department of Player Safety explains their decision below.
“I’m trying to make sure he doesn’t go to the net after the play,” Letang said after the game. “I saw him coming full speed. I tired to step up in the middle, but things happen fast.”
The second round series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals started out with a simple narrative: Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin. Two of the great stars of the game, going at it one-on-one with their unique and opposing styles of play. Instead, the match-up has been defined by dirty hits and verbal jabs. First, Brooks Orpik delivered an extremely late, high hit to the head on Olli Maatta in Game Two, sidelining the young Pens blueliner with a concussion. The Penguins cried foul and the NHL agreed, suspending Orpik for three games, a punishment the Capitals defensemen called “fair.”
In Game Three, it was the Penguins who found themselves trying to defend an indefensible hit. Speaking to reporters on both Monday night and Tuesday afternoon, the Capitals were adamant Letang should receive the same punishment as Orpik. Now that he hasn’t, the Capitals will be angry, if they weren’t already. Johansson, Tom Wilson, Alex Ovechkin, and Daniel Winnik all took runs at Letang after the hit.
“I’d love to be able to go out there and drop the gloves and grab Letang, but it’s a new age,” Wilson said Tuesday.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.
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