The most talked about play from all the action in the Stanley Cup Playoffs Monday night was the Alex Ovechkin–Andrei Svechnikov fight. The one-sided battle resulted in Svechnikov – who was 40 pounds lighter than his opponent – laying on the ice and being removed from the game.
The update Tuesday morning is that Svechnikov, obviously, is in concussion protocol and had to be transported to hospital for precautionary measures. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said he “would assume” Svechnikov will miss Game 4.
The buzz around the fight on Tuesday has a lot to do with who initiated it – was it Ovechkin, who dropped his gloves first, or did Svechnikov push the envelope and ask or insist on a fight? Some question that even if Svechnikov did ask for it, Ovechkin maybe shouldn’t have taken him up on the fight. But, these being the Stanley Cup Playoffs and with everyone involved capable of competing at this level, it’s hardly fair to blame Ovechkin for obliging – if indeed that’s how this all unfolded.
Svechnikov has not been able to comment on it yet, but we do know the 19-year-old Russian is a big fan of, and looked up to, his 33-year-old countryman. Although we can make conclusions about how the fight started by trying to read lips or watch replays, it’s hard to know exactly what happened in the heat of that moment.
The ‘Canes led the game 1-0 at the time of the fight and added another four unanswered goals over the final two and a half periods to run away with a Game 3 victory on home ice that kept them in the series. Will this be a turning point in the series? It’s worth pointing out that Washington mustered only eight shots over the final two periods.
Did the ‘Canes draw some energy from this result to rally around Svechnikov?
We collected some of what the players and coaches said about the fight after the game.
ROD BRIND’AMOUR, CAROLINA HEAD COACH
“Svech means a lot to us. Young kid, just turned 19, he has a special bond with our group and me too so when you see that it makes you sick,” Brind’Amour said after the game. “I’m still sick to my stomach about it. How do you comment on it? It’s a little bit tough. I just heard Ovi talk about it and he said our guy challenged him, so if that’s the case that’s a little different. But if you watch the video, (Ovi) slashes him twice and then Svech gives it back. I don’t know if there’s words exchanged, but one guy’s gloves come off first and that’s Ovi’s, it’s not our guy.
“So it’s a little bit frustrating because he got hurt and it’s his first fight. He’s played 90 games, never fought in his life and I’m pretty sure Ovi knew that. That stuff bothers me.”
JUSTIN WILLIAMS, CAROLINA CAPTAIN
“I love Svech,” Williams said in his post-game scrum. “He’s a gamer and he’s a really good kid. It was already intense, obviously that increased the snarl a bit. Any time something like that happens your intensity is going to ramp up a bit and it did.”
DOUGIE HAMILTON, CAROLINA DEFENCEMAN
“I kept thinking about it the whole game,” Hamilton told reporters. “I just hated seeing that, the whole part of it. It’s just something you never want to see. I just feel bad for him and hopefully he gets better soon.”
He added: “We’re not going to say we rallied around the fight. Everyone knows what happened, we responded and that’s it.”
WARREN FOEGELE, CAROLINA FORWARD
“We all battled together. All 20 guys battled hard,” said Foegele, who had two goals and an assist in the game. “[Svechnikov is] our brother, and we stand up for each other. We knew we needed to get this win, not just for us, but for him.”
TODD REIRDEN, WASHINGTON HEAD COACH
“I hope their player is OK. You never like to see that in a fight. That was something that wasn’t … their player asked our player to fight and you have guys who don’t normally fight that do – that happens sometimes in playoff hockey. Like I said I hope their player is OK. They were maybe able to get some momentum from it or whatever, but that’s on the players that go on the ice after that shift.”
“I’m not a big fighter, he’s the same way,” a quiet Ovechkin said after the game. “He asked me to fight and I said, ‘Let’s go.’ I hope he’s OK. You don’t want to see a guy get hurt.”
It was Ovechkin’s first NHL fight since 2010 and, according to hockeyfights.com, just the fourth of his career.
BRADEN HOLTBY, WASHINGTON GOALIE
“It was big for him to show his emotion. He plays hard against a kid that takes a lot of cheap shots and that kind of thing. That was playoff hockey. But the biggest thing is that we didn’t respond very well. We kind of wasted that energy he created.”
JOHN CARLSON, WASHINGTON DEFECNEMAN
“I’ve seen him fight before,” Carlson said of Ovechkin. “It’s not like I was expecting him to get beat up or anything. But I wouldn’t challenge him to fight.”