"I didn’t expect it, he apologized after the play and it was understood," O’Reilly said Saturday before facing Toronto. "It threw me off, I wasn’t expecting anything and then something happens. I think he’s a good guy, he’s just playing hard and he takes a beating every night, too.
The incident occurred early in Tuesday’s visit by the Pittsburgh Penguins. O’Reilly fell to the ice after taking the stick and didn’t realize Crosby had delivered the blow until afterwards.
"I’m watching the play, watching the puck and the next thing I remember is getting a stick right to the crotch," said O’Reilly. "It threw me off, for sure. I got up slowly and turned around, I was trying to see who it was. And then off the one faceoff he comes up, or as we were skating down the ice and says ‘Yeah, sorry about that. I was going for your stick.’ I was like ‘Ah, it happens, I guess.’
"It would have been nice to have a penalty."
O’Reilly and Crosby have twice been Team Canada teammates – winning the 2015 IIHF World Hockey Championship together and the World Cup last September.
The Sabres forward seemed willing to offer the league’s leading goal-scorer the benefit of the doubt.
Crosby also caused a stir in Ottawa on Thursday when defenceman Marc Methot had his left pinky finger mangled by a slash from the Penguins captain – an incident that prompted Senators owner Eugene Melnyk to lash out against Crosby in a radio interview.
"I saw the slash on (Methot), that’s an unfortunate play," said O’Reilly. "People are asking me about what happened with myself. It was a weird thing, but it happens."