Wilson’s shoulder appeared to strike Dumoulin in the head as the defenseman turned away from an oncoming hit from Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin. Dumoulin did not return to the game, and he practiced in Pittsburgh on Monday in a non-contact jersey. He has averaged more than 22 minutes for the Penguins in the playoffs as a top-pairing defenseman.
“I got the puck behind the net. I knew Wilson was coming from behind,” Dumoulin said to reporters in Pittsburgh Monday. “At that point I saw Ovi coming. I tried to make a pass through him. I didn’t know Wilson was there at all or anything like that. I was just bracing for Ovechkin.”
According to a person familiar with the league’s supplemental discipline process, in the NHL’s view, Dumoulin materially changed the position of his head and body immediately before contact. Wilson was chasing him and not able to initiate any sort of hit, but Dumoulin stopped suddenly. Per the wording of Rule 48.1.iii, such hits are considered unavoidable and not suspension-worthy. A penalty wasn’t called on the ice.
“I’m at no point trying to target the head at all,” Wilson said Sunday. “I’m skating, backchecking, trying to do my job, and unfortunately there’s a collision there. … I think if you watch it at game speed, I don’t even alter my movement at all. I’m just skating straight. The way I look at it: There’s no way I can get his head from that point where I am. He stops and turns and I’m kind of right there as [Ovechkin is] coming in pretty aggressively. It’s a collision. I end up getting blown right out of the water, too. It’s a bit of an unfortunate play that he got hurt.”
Wilson is considered a repeat offender after he was suspended twice in the preseason, and this marks the second time during the playoffs that he has faced the threat of supplemental discipline. In Game 1 of the Capitals’ first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a Wilson check forced Columbus center Alexander Wennberg to miss three games. Wilson was penalized during the game for that infraction but was not suspended. He’s coming off a career season with 14 goals and 21 assists, playing mostly on the top line with Ovechkin.
Trotz was asked whether Wilson still has a reputation to overcome, even as his offensive game has developed.
“Yes, a little bit, yeah,” he said. “It’s something that you try to grow out of. He’s grown as a player. He’s gone from being a fourth-line energy guy to first-line power forward, and sometimes those reputations stay with you a little bit and you have to outgrow that, if you will, or it takes a little time. I think he’s doing a really good job. He studies it, he looks at it, he’s trying to get better all the time. It’s something he has to battle a little bit.”
Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky remains week-to-week with an upper-body injury that he suffered in Game 2 of Washington’s first-round series, and he won’t travel to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4. The team is healthy other than that, having avoided injuries to forward T.J. Oshie, who blocked a shot with his hand late in the game, and center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who took a slash. Trotz said he’s keeping the same lineup for Game 3.
The Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin, who missed the first two games of the series with an apparent leg injury, could return for Game 3; he practiced fully Monday in Pittsburgh. Winger Carl Hagelin and Dumoulin also practiced, but they donned non-contact jerseys, making their status for Tuesday’s game more questionable. The series is tied at one win apiece.
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