With 2:52 remaining in the second period, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a powerplay goal to put the Caps up 3-0 over the Wild. The Capitals had all the momentum and looked to breeze to their first win in ten days.
On the very next shift, Minnesota head coach Bruce Boudreau put enforcer Ryan White onto the ice and chaos erupted. White finished a legal check on Brooks Orpik in the Wild’s offensive zone. Tom Wilson dropped his gloves and skated after White.
Wilson and White engaged in an angry 25-second bout, which included Wilson ragdolling White.
Wilson was assessed 17 penalty minutes, including an instigator minor and a ten-minute misconduct. The Wild finished the period on the power play.
Tom Wilson in his natural habitat pic.twitter.com/5Iy2PHSakb
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) March 15, 2017
Ryan White and the Capitals have history. Last season, White injured Brooks Orpik during Game Three of the Caps-Flyers first round playoff series. While he was not penalized on the play, White arguably charged Orpik when he landed the hit, which broke off part of the Wells Fargo Center dasherboard.
A similar play by White on Tuesday might have enraged Wilson. As Orpik moved the puck around the boards, White checked him, raising a shoulder into Orpik’s chest and neck.
Wilson dropped the gloves immediately.
The Capitals were able to kill off the ensuing Wild power play, but gave up two consecutive goals to the Wild to start the third period.
It’s admirable for Wilson to stick up for his teammate, but the instigator penalty came at a dangerous crossroads in the game.
Trotz on 43's fight: "We’ll take those all day long…it was a bit of a high hit. Any time guys step in for each other, guys respect that."
— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) March 15, 2017
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