(Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Less than six minutes into the second period Tuesday night, fresh off a minor penalty whistled for kneeing, forward Tom Wilson tore into the offensive zone, cranked a shot and chased after the rebound. The puck scooted behind the net, where New York Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky poked it along the boards. Never breaking stride, Wilson leveled Visnovsky, listed as six inches shorter and 18 pounds lighter than the Washington Capitals’ winger.

The hit launched Visnovsky backward, off both skates, and left him struggling to stand. He eventually retreated into the tunnel, pressing a towel to his face, and never returned. Wilson, meanwhile, was dealt a charging minor, his second of the period, and the next afternoon explained his perspective of the check.

“Obviously, the call was charging,” he said. “I had the puck and kind of shot it on net, I don’t think…maybe took one stride. I was gliding in, see it was a pretty big collision and the ref makes a call based on what he felt at the time. I look at it a couple times. I think everyone in the room felt it was fairly clean.


“Whenever I make a body check, I’m trying to make sure I’m doing everything as clean as possible, staying on my feet and finishing hard and low through the guy’s body. He’s a littler guy and obviously … he wasn’t feeling great afterwards. It’s tough. I hope he’s feeling alright. You never want to see a guy go down like that, but it’s a hard enough sport and it’s a hard-hitting sport, so that’s going to happen.”

Wilson noticed the reaction on Twitter and other social media forms – words like “steamrolls,” “annihilated” and “decimates” were used in various headlines – and said his “phone was kind of blowing up.” Wilson finished the Game 4 overtime victory with 7 minutes, 44 seconds of ice time across 11 shifts. Visnovsky’s status for Game 5 is reportedly in jeopardy.

Asked about the hit, Coach Barry Trotz said he had seen the replay and felt it was clean, comparing it to checks from Islanders fourth-liners Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas.

“It was a hard, clean hit,” he said. “He didn’t leave his feet, he stayed low, puck’s right there, all those things. Tom Wilson didn’t do anything other than run him over. Tom Wilson’s a lot bigger than their player and he hit him clean. It’s really no different than like Martin or Clutterbuck or Cizikas, they’re hitting hard and they’re hitting clean.”

The Islanders disagreed.

Wilson said he hadn’t heard from the NHL about any supplemental discipline. According to ESPN’s Katie Strang, the league determined the two-minute minors was enough punishment.

“I think I’m fine,” Wilson said, when asked if he expected to be contacted by the NHL. “I don’t think it was a charge. Like I said I was gliding for most of the time after my shot or my pass. Yeah, it was a big hit. Hopefully he’s feeling better and we’ll leave it at that.”