Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson did not finish his final shift of Game Five, Saturday night.
Carlson absorbed what Barry Trotz termed an “unsuspecting, high hit” from Penguins forward Jake Guentzel.
The play went down like this. Guentzel skated the puck out of the Penguins defensive zone and to center ice. It was there that he dumped the puck into the Capitals zone. Brooks Orpik was the first to reach the biscuit, chipping the puck back behind the net to Carlson. Carlson was checked by Guentzel directly behind the goal.
In NBC’s slow motion replay, Guentzel appears to drive his arm into Carlson’s chest, but then seems to catch the defenseman under the chin with his shoulder. Guentzel’s helmet also clanks off of Carly’s. The contact and the resulting whiplash causes Carlson’s bucket to dislodge off the top of his head.
Sportsnet’s replay did not reveal anything more.
NBC’s Pierre McGuire said Guentzel’s bodycheck was a “clean, hard hit.” He was not penalized on the play.
Carlson put his head down and appeared to be sucking air at the bench, suggesting the main point of contact with his torso.
Brooks Orpik would get physical with Guentzel after the whistle while Matt Niskanen would jaw with the Penguins forward during the next faceoff.
Barry Trotz, using clearly enunciated words, spoke about the bodycheck after the game.
“John took a high hit,” Trotz said. “He was unsuspecting with about a minute left. He’s being evaluated right now. I know the standard’s been set, so I’m going to leave it up to the league. It was a headshot in my opinion. An unsuspecting high hit.”
Guentzel, who skates on the Penguins first line with Sidney Crosby, leads the Penguins and the NHL in goals (10) and points (21) during the 2018 playoffs.
Tom Wilson is currently serving a three-game suspension for an illegal check to the head.
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