The playoffs have started and the goodwill between the Capitals and their former teammate Justin Williams seems to have already come to an end.
Five minutes into the second period of Thursday night’s match, Matt Niskanen laid Hurricanes star Sebastian Aho out with a big hit. Williams was furious.
Niskanen’s bodycheck came on the Capitals penalty kill. As Aho chipped the puck up the boards, Niskanen caught the Hurricanes forward off-guard with a hit that Carolina argued was interference. Aho scored 30 goals and had 83 points in the regular season.
Williams immediately went after Niskanen and the two exchanged slashes as the Hurricanes’ captain left the Caps’ defensive zone. Williams then cross-checked Niskanen in the back. He also cross-checked John Carlson on his way to the Canes bench.
“And now Williams is going after Niskanen,” NBC Sports Washington’s Craig Laughlin said. “He’s running into everybody as he’s going to the bench. He gave the referee a mouth full before leaving stage left. Aho’s upset also.”
Niskanen appeared to have a cut on his lip on the bench afterward although it’s unclear whether that was from the Williams incident or his work clearing out the crease during the PK.
Williams was well-loved by the Caps fanbase and his teammates, who FaceTimed him after they won the Stanley Cup.
But all good things must come to an end. (At least for 3-6 more games.)
“Obviously when he was here, we loved him as a guy,” Nicklas Backstrom said to the Washington Times’ Adam Zielonka. “But right now we’re not gonna talk to him for a couple weeks here.”
is justin williams a bad guy now pic.twitter.com/WRKb59RRPN
— x. (@youripides) April 12, 2019
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