“This stuff happens,” Ovechkin told reporters in Pittsburgh. “It’s hard to see a player go down and it’s hard to see him get hurt…I hope he’s going to be fine and [gets] back in the series.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins superstar suffered a concussion—unfortunately it’s not the first time we’ve heard that—when he was cross-checked by Capitals defenceman Matt Niskanen in the first period of Game 3 Monday. Niskanen received a cross-checking major and game misconduct but did not receive any supplemental discipline from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
Ovechkin has been criticized for slashing Crosby and clipping his leg moments before he collided with Niskanen.
When asked if he thought the sequence was dirty, Ovechkin responded: “It’s hockey. As a player you don’t want to hurt someone and you don’t want to see someone leave the ice with the doctors. We’re focusing on the games. It happened. It’s your job [the media] to talk about what happened. We move forward.”
Niskanen also spoke Wednesday and reiterated that he did not intend to hit Crosby’s head.
“I regret that it happened, but I am adamant that I’m not sure, at that game speed, what I could have done different,” Niskanen told reporters. “Obviously in super slo-mo and in hindsight, I wish I had one hand on my stick and my hands were way down. But the collision happened fast. And Sid’s trying to score a goal and he’s getting lower and lower as it happens. My intent was not to forcefully cross-check him in the face.
“I think anybody that knows me, I’m not trying to hit guys in the head. I’m trying to play hard within the rules, hit guys in the body. To be honest, I wasn’t even trying to hit him in that play. It was a collision that happened because he was coming in with a serious amount of speed.”
Game 4 takes place Wednesday night with Washington looking to even the series at two games apiece.
“They still have lots of talented players, experienced players,” Ovechkin added. “Obviously he’s their captain and leader. He’s the best player in the game and he’s a key for their success, so I think Malkin’s going to step up pretty big and we have to play very smart against his line.”