In the third period of Game 4 of the Capitals/Penguins playoff series on Wednesday night, Alex Ovechkin slashed Sidney Crosby, forcing Crosby to exit the game. An angry Crosby made his way to the locker room, doing quite a number on the wall on his way there.
Luckily for Pittsburgh, Crosby was not seriously injured on the play and the Penguins won 3-2 in overtime to take a 3-1 series lead. The slash on Crosby, though, was the latest example of physicality in a series full of physical, if not excessive, hitting.
“I didn’t think it’d be as dirty as it’s been,” Washington’s 106.7 The Fan Host Chad Dukes said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I don’t know if dirty is the right call, but it’s contested. You had hits to the back of the head, you had the Brooks Orpik suspension where Caps fans are losing it because they can’t believe (Kris) Letang didn’t get the same suspension.”
Orpik was suspended for three games following his Game 2 hit on Pittsburgh’s Olli Maatta. It was Orpik’s first suspension since 2006.
“I was not expecting this,” Dukes said. “You heard this aura of professionalism around this Caps team where history hasn’t meant anything. You know what the history of this Caps team is. They’ve been the most talented team and the most decorated team. They won the Presidents Trophy in years past and they get booted out in the first round, booted out in the second round. Montreal had scorched them to their face. They go up 3-1 (in 2010), and they lose in seven games. I thought all that was kind of behind them. But the animosity between this team and Pittsburgh, it just needs a little dose of lighter fluid to be rekindled, and that really, I think, has affected the way this (series has unfolded).”
Dukes believes that the Capitals and Penguins are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference and perhaps the two best teams in hockey. With the Penguins up 3-1, however, Dukes gives the Caps little chance of advancing.
“John Carlson comes on my show, and I feel very lucky – I’ve had him on all season long and you can hear the timbre in his voice about how different it is,” Dukes said. “(Barry) Trotz (is in his) second year, and they brought (some new guys) in here that have that championship (pedigree), that have been to the mountaintop, that have been through the grind of an NHL playoff. All of that’s great, but if you go down 3-1, it’s just too hard to come back.”
Washington, which has lost three straight one-goal games, hosts Pittsburgh in Game 5 on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET.