In Monday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Capitals center Lars Eller delivered a hit to Canes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi in the final seconds of regulation that had members of the Carolina locker room displeased. It was announced Thursday that the Finnish center will be out two-to-three weeks with a lower-body injury due to said hit.
The game in question ended 6-1 in favor of Carolina and many questioned whether or not the hit was necessary or just born out of frustration. Eller went on 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies to defend the play and wish Kotkaniemi the best.
"He was coming into an area I need to cover. I tried everything I could to get shoulder on shoulder."
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) March 31, 2022
“I know it was kind of the last shift but I didn’t know if there were 30 seconds left or 10,” Eller said. “The other team had the puck in our zone and as long as the clock is running, we’re going to do everything we can to not let them score another goal. It’s just pretty much how we play in the defensive zone.”
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) March 29, 2022
“He was coming into an area I need to cover. I tried everything I could to get shoulder on shoulder,” Eller said. “I kind of lowered down and just coasted into him. I didn’t really charge into him. I think it was sort of more gliding and made sure I didn’t hit his head, which I don’t think I did. He was in a vulnerable position.”
Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour obviously saw the play a little bit differently, sounding off to the media after the game.
“He hurt a player. He’s injured. We don’t know how bad, but he’s definitely going to be out,” Brind’Amour said. “The game was over. Let’s just get over with it, two seconds. I don’t like it, but what are you going to do about it.”
Kotkaniemi has 26 points in 63 games with the Hurricanes this season. He signed an eight-year extension worth $4.82 million per season with the team just a few weeks ago.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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