LAS VEGAS — Midway through the third period of Game One, Capitals forward Tom Wilson delivered a devastating, open-ice hit to Jonathan Marchessault. Wilson has been suspended three times during the year and this was another questionable play.
After Marchessault sent a pass to the wing, the Vegas Golden Knights forward admired his pass. Wilson nailed Marchessault from the blind side, causing the forward to go the quiet room. Wilson was given a two-minute minor for interference after referees huddled. Marchessault would return to the game after passing the concussion protocol.
Both players had vastly different views of the play.
“I have the puck, I’m trying to make the play, I see [my teammates] going through, a couple seconds go by, and I just get blindsided,” Marchessault said. “I’m not a guy that make those decisions, but I’m sure the league is going to take care of it.
“I saw the hit. I remember everything. It was a late hit,” Marchessault continued. “We know what type of player he is out there. You gotta keep your head up and try to make the play. I didn’t make the play, I was a little late, but whatever.”
Ryan Reaves, who scored the game-tying goal after a questionable non-call, was less diplomatic, saying “it was a late blindside hit like Wilson always does.”
Meanwhile, head coach Gerard Gallant added that the team was “upset about it,” adding that the hit was both “big” and “late.”
In the Capitals locker room, Wilson, like he has done so many times this year, defended himself.
“He’d probably say he shouldn’t admire his pass. I’m just finishing my check,” Wilson said. “I haven’t slowed it down. I’ve been told that we’re talking tenths [of a second] here. I think it’s game speed, and I delivered it in good time. I think he let up a little bit because he wasn’t aware I was there. I finished him through his body. He might have been a little bit surprised by it, but it wasn’t an aggressive hit. He looked fine at the end when he was yelling at me from the bench.”
Wilson has gained a reputation around the league for playing — at times — over the line. He addressed that with reporters.
“When you play my physical style, you’re going to have that reputation,” Wilson said. “I trust myself. I play the game hard. It’s my job to bring that energy, that physicality. Right after he got up, he said ‘good hit.’ It’s the Stanley Cup Final out there. There are going to be hits. It looked good to me.”
But in this game, one that mattered so much to people who live in and around the most powerful city in the world, some who have waited all 43 years of Capitals existence, Wilson made a dangerous play. It did not accomplish much and may leave Washington without its top-line right wing for Game Two.
The 5 + game misconduct for Interference was instituted for the very type of late blindside hit Tom Wilson just delivered.
— Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall) May 29, 2018
Katie Brown co-authored this article.
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