October 09, 2009
It was your typical "Battle of Pennsylvania" that featured plenty of goals (including Braydon Coburn(notes) pulling a Steve Smith) and endless bad blood between the longtime division rivals. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 last night behind Evgeni Malkin's(notes) two points and Tyler Kennedy's(notes) eventual game-winning with just under 12 minutes to play in the third period, but what would a Penguins-Flyers game be without a little controversy?
What's making the headlines this morning is the actions of Scott Hartnell(notes) as time was running out late in the game. With the Flyers down a goal and with under 20 seconds remaining, their last effort saw Mike Richards(notes) collide with Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) after a missed shot and as Penguins defenseman Kris Letang(notes) tried to defend his netminder, Hartnell grabbed him behind and the two wrestled each other to the ice. According to Letang, Hartnell bit him on the right ring finger.
Click on the screen cap below to watch video of the final flurry and aftermath:
After the game, Letang spoke with reporters and did not outright accuse Hartnell of biting his finger, instead telling reporters to speak with the Flyers forward. Click on the screen cap for video of Letang speaking with reporters after the game:
Hartnell denied the allegations by the Penguins saying "a lot of stuff happens on the bottom of the pile. He had his hands in my face doing the face wash and we're rolling around. I can't say what happened."
Please recall in January when Ottawa's Jarko Ruutu bit Buffalo's Andrew Peters(notes) which saw the Senators pest get suspended two games by the National Hockey League. Unlike in the Ruutu-Peters incident there is no visual evidence at this time that clearly shows a Hartnell bite which could help the NHL determine a penalty.
If the punishment for proven finger biting is two games, does the NHL decide a suspension (if any) without video evidence or confirmation from one of the referees? Former Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher(notes) was accused of biting New Jersey's Travis Zajac(notes) in 2008, but no fine or suspension was ever levied, so Hartnell may escape here.