Things got a little wild in the Winnipeg Jets’ game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, after center Bryan Little was injured by a brutal hit from defenseman Anton Stralman.
With just under three minutes left in the second period, Victor Hedman poked the puck away from Little as he stumbled into the attacking zone. With Little’s head down, Stralman lined him up and laid him out with a huge hit.
Blake Wheeler jumped Stralman after the hit, with Little writhing on the ice.
Keep in mind this was the second questionable hit from Stralman in the period, earlier catching the leg of Nikolaj Ehlers with a hit after the Jets forward dished the puck.
As Stralman wasn’t penalized for either hit, coach Paul Maurice was incensed on the bench, and apparently said the wrong thing: Referees Dan O’Rourke and Francois St. Laurent gave him a game misconduct. (The wrong thing, from the looks of it, being something about two missed calls and a flurry of F-bombs.)
"I was upset because you work with these guys every day and you care about them and their wives and their families,” said Maurice after the game, via Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun. "Little is getting neck X-Rayed and I seem to be more concerned about the result of that hit than anyone else."
One point of contention for the Jets: St. Laurent was seen smiling about the ejection. Said Maurice:
"You’re not doing me any favors here. I understand you’ve got a job to do, but I think that would then have been consistent with their overall demeanor regarding the whole incident. That’s fair."
Stralman defended the hit after the game. “I don’t play the game to try to hurt anybody, I tried to make a hit and he lost his edge, lost his balance and I was in his way,’’ he said. “There is not really much I can do to pull out of that one.’’
Wheeler, however, wasn’t having it:
Wheeler on hit on Little: "(Stralman) was taking a liberty on a guy who was in a vulnerable spot and that pisses you off.” #NHLJets
— Ted Wyman (@Ted_Wyman) February 19, 2016
The Lightning blew a 3-0 first-period lead and then a 4-1 lead in the third period, needing a Nikita Kucherov goal at 15:04 of the third period to reach overtime after a roaring Jets rally. The Bolts won in a shootout, 6-5.
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