The New York Islanders were cruising against the Washington Capitals as they were up 3-0 early in the second period. But a questionable hit by forward Alex Ovechkin on Jean-Gabriel Pageau gave the Capitals all the momentum as they stormed back to force overtime before defenseman Dmitry Orlov finished off the comeback for the 4-3 win.
Here was Ovechkin’s hit on Pageau:
Ovechkin hit on Pageau pic.twitter.com/DDEZLhS7uA
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) January 17, 2023
Pageau left the contest wobbly but somehow returned before the end of the second and finished the game. He will not need to be evaluated further, given that he was cleared to return.
No penalty was called on the play, even after an official review determined that Ovechkin did not break any rules.
New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert thought differently as he, clearly furious, responded with the following:
“Very surprised. Charging, boarding, whatever it might be. He took steps, and we definitely should have been on the power play.”
Lambert was already fuming, in his quiet way, with how the game played out. There was nothing to like besides the strong start.
When we entered the locker room before Lambert’s conference, Pageau was absent. The Islanders did not make him available for questioning, but his teammates shared their thoughts on the hit.
“We’re hoping for a call on that, but yeah, anytime you see a guy go down, guys have to step up, so you kind of have to look past that a bit and go out there and take care of business,” Brock Nelson said.
Obviously, they did not.
“I didn’t really see it in real-time. But I think he was in a pretty vulnerable position just when he’s taken a shot, you open up like that, but I’m glad to see was okay and come back,” Noah Dobson said. ‘
“Honestly, I didn’t really see it,” Hudson Fasching said. “I mean, it kind of looked like a hit to the head from what I did see, so I mean, obviously, you never see like to see when your teammates and linemates get hurt, so just glad he’s okay.”
Matt Martin, who was bloodied up after a Dylan Strome stick caught him in the face, wasn’t a fan of the hit.
“Didn’t love it, obviously. But they looked at it and deemed it legal, so what can you do.”
The Islanders have seen a handful of players go down this season with little to no retaliation. Add this Pageau injury to Adam Pelech’s, Oliver Wahlstrom’s, Kyle Palmieri’s, and Simon Holmstrom’s this season.
Lambert was asked if he thought that his team has lacked responses after big hits on teammates:
“I think if you look at the score sheet, Matt Martin had 10 hits tonight. I think there was a response.”
The problem was no one went after Ovechkin.