Tomas Vokoun was quietly brilliant in his second performance in a Capitals jersey, making 39 saves after allowing a goal on the Penguins’ first shot, while Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble each scored their first goals of the season.
But what will likely be most remembered from this latest installment was a fight between Jay Beagle and Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham, who knocked out the Capitals’ fourth-liner, then taunted him as he lay on the ice.
“It’s a fight. It’s hockey game but again it was pretty tough. Beagle, like, he’s just first-year NHL. Asham, I don’t know if he knows that or not, but just put him on the ice,” Ovechkin said. Beagle is “not a fighter, it’s not his job to fight. I don’t know, it looked kind of not respectful for players on different team. I don’t know what people think, but I think it’s not respectful.”
A bona-fide tough guy with 83 regular season NHL fights to his credit, Asham pursued a scrap with the 25-year-old Calgary native after Beagle got into a shoving match with Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang nearly six minutes into the third period. Beagle, who had never fought in the NHL regular season prior to this game, took the first few swings, but Asham dropped the winger when he connected with two straight right hooks.
As Beagle lay facedown on the ice, Asham made a motion with his arms like a baseball umpire signaling safe, then put his hands together and tilted his head against them like a child would to signify sleeping. The sellout crowd of 18,512 clad in black and gold roared.
“It doesn’t surprise me. I’m not surprised by a lot of things that happened,” said usually mild-mannered Karl Alzner, a close friend of Beagle’s. “Just some of the comments by their fans and stuff is just unbelievable. It’s classless.”
Beagle, who got up with a swollen and bloody mouth and was helped to the dressing room by teammates, was assessed a roughing minor and five minutes for fighting. Asham, who began jawing with Ovechkin, in the box to serve the extra penalty, was given five minutes for fighting.
Coach Bruce Boudreau asked the referees to clarify their interpretation of the instigator rule, though he said after the game that he didn’t see the gestures Asham made. Knuble, a former teammate of Asham’s in Philadelphia, didn’t comment directly on the gestures and said he felt the Penguins winger is “a pretty honest player” that was fulfilling his role by defending a teammate.