Alex Ovechkin made Zbynek Michalek the victim of his hit in the second period, but the Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was guilty of an illegal hit just a few minutes later.
Michalek elbowed Washington Capitals forward Matt Hendricks into the boards, a hit that earned him a hearing with NHL VP of player safety Brendan Shanahan on Monday.
“You try to put yourself in a good position to take hits and stuff, but at the same time I was a couple feet off the boards and going towards the puck,” Hendricks said. “I don’t think it was a clean hit, but he got an elbowing penalty for it, put us on the power play.”
It seemed to be the prototypical hit that the league is trying to get rid of. It wasn’t flagrant in the same way Rene Bourque’s elbow was to the head of Nicklas Backstrom, but Michalek seems to be in line for a suspension.
“I knew he was in the vicinity, I knew he was coming,” Hendricks said. “But I didn’t expect that. I tried o play the puck along the boards to [Troy] Brouwer there behind their net.”
Michalek told reporters in Pittsburgh that it was “a hockey play.” Caps coach Dale Hunter declined to comment on it until after Monday’s hearing, as did Ovechkin.
As for whether Hendricks thinks Michalek should be suspended, the 30-year-old said: “I don’t know. I leave those decisions for the big guys in the league office.”
Those “big guys” will likely have their say later Monday. For his part, Hendricks said he’s fine.