MONTREAL — If this was boxing, Matt Hendricks would have lost by unanimous decision. Rene Bourque dominated their fight Wednesday night at Bell Centre and finished it all with a takedown, to the delight of the Montreal Canadiens fans in attendance.
But it wasn't the result of the bout but the fact that it took place that the Washington Capitals were talking about afterward. A cheap-shot elbow by Bourque to Nicklas Backstrom's head on Jan. 3 knocked the Caps' leading scorer out, and this was a chance to have some sort of retribution.
"When you do something like that, and you get suspended for I believe it was five games, you obviously have to expect some repercussions," Caps forward Troy Brouwer said. "It's not like we were focusing on it all day before the game. The opportunity was there and Hendo stepped up and did a great job."
It was Hendricks' eighth fight of the season, but this one everyone could see coming. It was the 1:15 mark of the first period and Bourque was only on the ice for nine seconds before the Caps' grinder asked the big winger to drop the gloves.
"That's the game of hockey. There's consequences that you have to pay for actions," Hendricks said. "He followed the code. I asked him and that was it. He said, 'Yep.' I'm sure he wanted to get it over with as early as he could as well."
Nothing else came of the whole Bourque situation. He finished with 14:05 of ice time and was held scoreless like the entire Canadiens team thanks to a brilliant night from Michal Neuvirth.
But it's possible the Caps drew momentum from the fight, even though Hendricks lost in a big way.
"Anytime you can do something like that, stand up for your teammate, whether it's in the same game or later on down the road, it picks the guys up," Brouwer said.
Three minutes and 26 seconds after the fight, Mathieu Perreault got the Caps on the board and silenced an already on-edge Montreal crowd. Soon after, Marcus Johansson made it 2-0 and Washington rolled from there.
Message sent, game over, and the Caps came out of Wednesday night with exactly what they wanted: a victory, 3-0.
Said coach Dale Hunter: "Hendricks and him had a fight and we still had to go out with the two points after and we got them."
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