At 13:23 of the second period on Thursday night, New York Rangers forward Artem Anisimov scored a layup that would have made the Knicks proud: Wide open in front of a gaping Tampa net, he received a pass from Michael Del Zotto and converted a short-handed goal.
If he had been any more wide open, he could have dropped down and nudged the puck over the line with his nose. Yet despite the ease with which he scored, Anisimov decided to engage in a preposterous celebration.
The Rangers forward grabbed his stick like a rifle, dropped to one knee and fired at the Lightning goal like he was cutting down enemy soldiers on "Call of Duty." (Which, incidentally, Anisimov plays on Xbox.) Here's what happened:A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.
The play drew immediate comparisons to the Teemu Selanne machine gun celebration, and why not: Scoring the fifth goal of your season is completely comparable to setting an NHL record for goals as a rookie, right? Right?
The Lightning didn't take too kindly to Anisimov's one-gun salute, as captain Vinny Lecavalier charged over to Anisimov, where he was met by a few Rangers. And that's when things really got interesting: Steve Downie, sitting on the boards at the Lightning bench, leaps onto the ice to join the melee. He was given a roughing minor and a misconduct.
The rules for players leaving the bench to start or join altercations on the ice are pretty clear. Please recall Sheriff Shanahan banning Jean-Francois Jacques for eight games (three preseason, five regular season) for leaving the bench to fight Mike Duco. Again: Downie wasn't given a fighting major, but he certainly hopped on the ice from the bench to join the chaos.
Question is: What it technically a line change? The whistle blew. He looked ready to come on for a line change. Could be a tricky one.
When you think "emphatic, brash goal celebration," the name Artem Anisimov doesn't exactly spring to mind. But he's a bit of a character; Henrik Lundqvist said "he's gotten more and more comfortable with everybody … he's kind of quiet but when he says something, it's usually pretty funny."
And what a time for that personality to come out; you know, what with the HBO cameras rolling and all. What a weird coincidence …
UPDATE: Interesting comments from the Rangers after the game, via Rangers Rants.
Said coach John Tortorella: "You guys all know him, he's a great kid. I don't think he realized what would happen in that type of situation and I don't think that's planned by him to go that far. I don't blame Tampa at all, I'd expect our team to do the same thing. It's a lesson learned pretty quickly."
Said Rangers center Brad Richards, formerly of the Lightning: "Artie won't do that again. He wasn't trying to embarrass anybody. He was celebrating a nice goal but that's what happens in hockey. We'll all move on from that."
Anisimov also apologized to his teammates for the taunt.
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