Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson is no stranger to rough stuff. The rugged winger has over 80 career regular-season fights in the NHL and added to that tally on Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With the Capitals down 4-0 in the dying seconds of the team’s Home Opener, Wilson took exception to Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson taking a run at him. After play stopped with 24.4 seconds left in the third period, Wilson made sure his frustrations were known and dropped the gloves with Pettersson behind Pittsburgh’s net.
Pettersson, who has eight NHL fights of his own under his belt, was none too pleased with having to go toe-to-toe with one of the league’s top heavyweights. He made that quite clear in a one-on-one, postgame interview with DK Pittsburgh Sports’ Taylor Haase.
Wilson’s frustration starts as he goes to collect a loose puck in the neutral zone with about 30 seconds remaining in regulation. Pettersson steps up from his defense position and tries to label Wilson with a high hit.
Play is eventually stopped seconds later after Noel Acciari takes a puck up high and Wilson makes a beeline straight to Pettersson to get the action started. The actual confrontation was a shortlived, unexciting one with Pettersson covering up and Wilson punching more helmet than face.
“I saw him coming, so I figured I had to get my gloves off and be ready for it,” Pettersson said. “You know, he’s a tough guy. I just tried to protect myself.”
Haase then asked the 27-year-old Swede how he thought he handled himself in the bout of fisticuffs. “I didn’t die, so, that’s a plus,” Pettersson said.
Wilson started Friday’s game off by labeling Pettersson with a big, clean hit that dropped the blueliner behind his own net. That hit seems to be what led to Pettersson trying to take his own run at Wilson with the game already well in hand for Pittsburgh.
“He can run people, but he doesn’t like it himself,” Pettersson said. “It’s whatever.”
Wilson has a long history of suspensions for “running” players in the NHL but has stayed clear of supplementary discipline since the end of the 2020-21 season. The only penalties doled out in Friday’s altercation were five-minute majors for fighting to both combatants.
The Capitals and Penguins will next meet up in the New Year on January 2. We’ll see if the animosity between Wilson and Pettersson lasts until then.
Screenshot via ESPN
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