For the first time in this series, Game 3 between the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins was genuinely chippy. Not quite Flyers-Penguins chippy, but chippy nonetheless.
But of all the penalties that were called Monday night, only one threatens to have a real impact on the outcome of this series. And it didn't come until after the final buzzer.
As time expired in the Bruins' 4-3 win, Boston winger Rich Peverley absorbed a check from Alex Ovechkin. In kind, Peverley took a swipe at Ovechkin, knocking Washington's captain to the ice. That's when Nicklas Backstrom intervened.
Let's go to the videotape, after the jump.
Video via CSN Washington.
Now, that's a pretty clear cross-check to the head. NHL Rule 59.4 says the following:
The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by cross-checking.
And NHL Rule 21.2 says, in part:
In addition to the match penalty, the player shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the Commissioner has ruled on the issue
Fortunately, Game 4 isn't until Thursday, so the league has a relatively large amount of time to cool its heels before making a decision. As far as Caps fans are concerned, they should take all the time they need. The Capitals can beat the Bruins without Backstrom in Game 4, but his absence makes the task that much more difficult.
"This is the third time in three games that one of our players has been cross-checked in the head," Bruins coach Claude Julien pointed out in his postgame presser. Of course, others might point out that the Bruins aren't wholly innocent when it comes to this sort of thing.