PITTSBURGH — Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson continues to be the most despised man in Pittsburgh.
In Game 2 in Washington, Wilson knocked Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin out of the game in the second period with a hit to the head. He didn’t receive a penalty on the play and wasn’t suspended, presumably because Dumoulin turned his head after Wilson had started the hit.
In the second period Game 3 in Pittsburgh Tuesday night, Wilson crushed Zach Aston-Reese with a shoulder-to-head hit that left the Penguins player with a broken jaw and a concussion. Again, no penalty on the play. Aston-Reese, who will need surgery, was bleeding on the ice and threw his glove toward the Washington bench.
“It’s a high, high (hit), what else can I say?” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz said the hit was shoulder on shoulder.
“(Wilson) is a unique player,” Trotz said after the Capitals’ 4-3 win. “There are few Tom Wilsons in the league. That’s why he is very effective.”
The on-ice officials conferred after Tuesday night’s hit.
“When we have a big hit like that, and there’s a lot of stuff going on on the ice, our guys come together — because obviously both referees didn’t put their arm up, so obviously they didn’t think there was a penalty,” Paul Devorski, the NHL’s on-site supervisor, told pool reporters. “So now they bring in the linesmen, who if they think it’s a major penalty, they’ll tell the referees. So they all got together and they said, ‘You know what, we’ve got a good, clean check here.’ “
Later in the period, Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was penalized two minutes for cross-checking and Wilson laughed at him. Wilson received a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The 220-pound Wilson is one of the NHL’s edgiest players. He was suspended twice this season for preseason actions.
Coming into the game, some Pittsburgh fans were hoping the Penguins would retaliate against Wilson for the hit on Dumoulin.
But Sullivan said Tuesday morning that Penguins were only interested in playing their game.
The Wilson saga is far from over. His actions, and how the Penguins will respond, will be a subplot until this series is over.