BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Jack Capuano’s frustration was evident following the New York Islanders’ Game 3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The build up for Brian Boyle’s winning goal was aided by a headshot that went uncalled, he believes.
Early in overtime, Boyle took out Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey with a high hit along the boards. Hickey’s intended pass was intercepted by the Lightning and when Tampa transitioned and entered the offensive zone, Hickey was down on the ice as Boyle took possession of the puck as part of a 3-on-2.
Hickey was just getting to his skates as Boyle corralled Victor Hedman’s wide shot off the back boards and scored his second of the playoffs to give Tampa a 5-4 win and a 2-1 series lead.
The Islanders and their fans were obviously unhappy with the no call. Afterward, Capuano was predicting a coming suspension for Boyle.
“It’s a direct shot to the head. [He’s] probably going to get suspended a game,” Capuano said. “The whole game, it shouldn’t come down to that. [The ref] is standing right there. I’ve watched it numerous times now. Those are the type of hits that we’re trying to eliminate from our game. It’s just too bad that it had to end that way.”
Capuano didn’t have any update on Hickey’s after the game.
On the other side, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper didn’t think the hit deserved much discussion.
“How many hits were in that game? 70, 80 hits?,” Cooper asked. “I would say there was 15 harder than the one Boyle was involved in, and one that was really a hard hit. To me, [Boyle’s] was a mild hit compared to some of the banging that went on in that hockey game.”
What Cooper was referencing was Hickey’s big open ice hit on Jonathan Drouin in the second period. The Lightning forward left the game and passed all baseline testing before coming back for the third period. Afterward, Drouin called the hit clean.
Boyle said he didn’t feel he was in any danger of hearing from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
“I’ve never had anything like that in my career. At this point I don’t really have any control,” said Boyle.
“That was two guys trying to make a hockey play and it was fortunate it worked out for us,” Cooper added.
Controversial hits have been a talking point early on in Round 2. We’ve seen two suspensions already following a pair of hits from the last two games in the Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals series.
Both of those hits were penalized. Boyle’s hit on Hickey, however, went uncalled and it cost the Islanders the game in Capuano’s mind.
“Maybe he didn’t see it that way. They’re human too,” Capuano said. “But I’m sure the league is going to take a look at it because I just watched Brooks Orpik and I just watched Kristopher Letang, and those guys play hard. They’re not looking to hurt anybody, it just happens.
“I don’t think Boyle’s looking to hurt anybody, maybe he was, I don’t know, but at the end of the day it’s a headshot. It’s clearly a headshot and it determined the outcome of the game. We should have been on the power play.”
With two full days off ahead of Game 4 Friday night, the sour taste in Capuano’s mouth from this game won’t be going away any time soon.
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