The New York Islanders throttled the Washington Capitals 8-4 at Nassau Coliseum Thursday night and it ended with fireworks.
At the buzzer, there was a gentlemanly throwdown between two of the teams’ leaders, Zdeno Chara and Matt Martin.
The fight led to an awkward showdown between both teams at center ice that thankfully didn’t materalize into a brawl.
As the Islanders were running out the clock unchallenged in the defensive zone, Chara and Martin began chatting at center ice. With about eight seconds remaining in the third period, both players agreed to dance.
“You wanna go?” Martin can be seen mouthing to Chara. Indeed, young sir, I imagine Chara said back. The two officials, who were initially separating the fighty players, let them go and it was on.
Chara overpowered Martin and attempted around seven punches. An uppercut he threw with his right hand appeared to do the most damage, connecting with Martin’s face as he was bent over. Then the Paul Bunyan of Hockey wrestled the Islander to the ice. Chara patted Martin on the back to congratulate him on surviving or something.
The fight was the 44-year-old Chara’s 70th career fight in the NHL, per Hockey Fights.
A minute before the Chara-Martin fight, Islanders enforcer Ross Johnston lined up against Garnet Hathaway on a center-ice faceoff. The two players yapped before the puck was dropped and were both given misconducts and tossed from the game. The two had previously fought last season in a one-sided fight won by Johnston.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) February 11, 2020
“What I love about this is Zdeno Chara is actually sending a message for the next game that these two teams play,” NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May said postgame. “That was about the much bigger Ross Johnston going after Garnet Hathaway so the much bigger Zdeno Chara went after Matt Martin there. It’s just about evening out the score. If you’re going to do that, we’ll do it right back.”
“That’s just to send a message that Zdeno was not happy how this game went,” NBC Sports Washington’s Craig Laughlin added. “He’s just sticking up for his team and making sure they’ll be ready tomorrow night. He wanted to make a point there about his hockey team.”
As the Islanders left the bench to celebrate their victory, several players turned back and met the Capitals at center ice. TJ Oshie, Alex Ovechkin, and Tom Wilson could be seen yelling at several Islanders including Casey Cizikas. An irate Nic Dowd, who is Garnet Hathaway’s linemate and close friend, then got involved.
Eventually, the referees were able to turn both teams to their tunnels and order was restored.
After the game, former Capitals head coach Barry Trotz blamed “26” (Dowd) for the fracas.
Trotz on the end of game shenanigans: "It all started with their 26 (Dowd), following Pageau all over the ice, cross-checked him about eight times… It's just unnecessary."
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) April 2, 2021
“It’s good,” Capitals’ defenseman Justin Schultz said of Chara’s fight. “He steps up for his teammates. That showed a lot there at the end. I think it’ll get us going for tomorrow.”
Screenshots courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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