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“I actually thought it was a penalty,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “I was assuming we were going to be short. … That’s just a fluke play. It’s good they probably took that into account.”

Actually, the explanation was that Alzner tipped another player’s shot, coach Adam Oates said. Officials aren’t supposed to take intent into account, making the puck-over-the-glass penalty one of the rare clear-cut instances where there’s no room for interpretation.

McDonagh and the Rangers learned that lesson the hard way in overtime when the shutdown defenseman who had been on the ice for the previous 3:04 missed his pass to Brian Boyle. McDonagh said he “just got a little too under it” and didn’t blame his heavy workload.

But it’s often a penalty of fatigue.

“That’s a tough play for D-men, especially,” Alzner said. “A lot of times you’re just trying to get the puck out, you’re tired and it’s funny how that happens.”

It’s an unpopular rule for defensemen like Alzner who spent much of their lives getting a stoppage by sending the puck out. It was put into place after the 2004-05 lockout to create more power plays, and almost eight years later it helped the Caps win a playoff game.

“They’re frustrating to take, but I think they’re a benefit to the game,” Holtby said. “It’s such an easy play now. Guys are so skilled. If you get under pressure, you flip it over. It’s a good penalty. You don’t want to take them, obviously, in a key situation of the game. Both teams are playing under the same rules, so you just have to remember that.”

When those rules favor the Caps, they’ll take it.