On the same shift as Alex Ovechkin’s goal that tied Game 3 up at 1 toward the end of the second period, Capitals defenseman Mike Green skated into the high slot having turned his head as he tried to retrieve the puck. As Green reached for possession, the Rangers’ Marc Staal clipped the Washington blueliner in the head with his right elbow/shoulder.
Green slowly got up and was able to join the celebration on the ice and played the rest of the game. Coach Bruce Boudreau said Green, who only just returned at the start of the playoffs from a concussion that caused him to miss 20 games and nearly two months, is fine after absorbing the blow. But the coach wants the NHL to examine the hit.
“It was to the side of the head and it was a dirty shot. I hope the league looks at it,” Boudreau said to reporters after an optional practice at KCI on Monday. “Let’s face it, I’m listening to all the experts last night on the [Raffi] Torres hit on [Brent] Seabrook, they’re all saying there’s no puck. It’s not a hockey play. The guy’s in a vulnerable position and he hits the head. That’s exactly what we’re trying to get out of the league. And Staal comes in, there’s no puck, he takes his arm, he swings it at [Green’s] head, but it’s all forgotten because we score a goal to tie the game up.
“But it shouldn’t be forgotten and it wasn’t the only time they targeted Mike’s head,” Boudreau continued. “They targeted it a few times. That’s what we want to get out of the game.”
Below is the NHL’s highlight video of Ovechkin’s goal but Staal’s hit on Green is viewable in the middle of the segment.
In the first period of Game 3, Green absorbed a high hit from Brandon Prust behind the Capitals’ net. Boudreau said he sees it as a growing trend.
“He took a high hit; they’re coming after him,” Boudreau said. “Prust left his feet in the first period and went at the head as well, and Mike threw a punch back at him when he was gone, but this is stuff that..... I have no problem with hitting. Let’s hit as hard as we can; that’s what this game is all about -- you cannot target the head.”