Tempers flared often Monday night in Game 3 between the Capitals and Bruins, but the fracas that could have a lasting impact came after time expired.
Boston forward Rich Peverley tripped Alex Ovechkin in the corner of the Washington zone, drawing the ire of Nicklas Backstrom. The Capitals center came to Ovechkin’s aid and proceeded to cross check Peverley to the face.
It was Backstrom’s third penalized cross check of the game, and this one garnered a match penalty, which results in an automatic suspension pending review by the NHL’s department of player safety. Coach Dale Hunter, who Tuesday accused the Bruins of targeting Backstrom’s head, was optimistic after Washington’s 4-3 loss that the 24-year-old Swede won’t face supplementary discipline. Backstrom was scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“They gave him a match but I think the league will review it and rescind it,” Hunter said. “If you seen it, it was not that bad.”
Bruins Coach Claude Julien said Backstrom’s cross check spoke to a pattern the Capitals have had during the series. Julien cited Jay Beagle’s high stick to the face of David Krejci in Game 1, which was penalized in the contest; Ovechkin on Dennis Seidenberg in Game 2 and Backstrom on Peverley in Game 3.
“I think it’s normal that there’s some intensity,” Julien said. “The rivalry is getting better and bigger as we move forward here. You understand that those kind of things are going to happen. I guess the only thing that’s a little disappointing for me is the fact that this is the third time in three games that our players have been cross-checked in the face.
“You hope that those things don’t get out of hand,” Julien continued. “I’m going to say the same thing I said last time: Somebody else has to deal with that, and not us, and as a coach I’m going to continue to get my team ready for the next game.”
Backstrom was not asked about the match penalty postgame because reporters were unaware of the call, which was made after the contest wrapped up. He was asked about the Bruins’ efforts to rattle Washington and how the team can handle it, though.
“Maybe just stay out of that. That’s probably the easiest way,” said Backstrom, who agreed that approach is easier said than done. “Yeah, absolutely, there’s a lot of emotion involved and stuff like that. We’ve got to handle it better.”