The first five minutes of Wednesday night’s Rangers/Capitals game went exactly as many expected.
After Tom Wilson was fined, not suspended, for his hit to the back of the head of Pavel Buchnevich and not disciplined at all for grabbing Artemi Panarin by the hair and slamming him to the ice on Monday night, New York responded by dropping the gloves as soon as the opening face-off was dropped to begin Wednesday’s rematch.
As the puck dropped to the ice to begin the game, so did six pairs of gloves, with New York’s Phillip Di Giuseppe tangling with Garnet Hathaway, while Kevin Rooney traded blows with Washington’s Nic Dowd, and Colin Blackwell got into it with former Ranger Carl Hagelin.
After the opening chaos was settled, Brendan Smith went right after Wilson after Wilson was on the ice for no more than a few seconds, resulting in the fourth fight in the opening minute of the game. It made for some crowded penalty boxes at Madison Square Garden.
Wilson’s fine was not met kindly by the Rangers, with Ryan Strome calling the ruling “a joke,” while the team itself released a statement expressing its disappointment, saying Wilson should have been suspended indefinitely while calling out NHL Department of Player Safety head George Parros, saying he was “unfit” for his role. Wilson was suspended for seven games earlier this season for a hit on Boston’s Brandon Carlo, who was hospitalized after the hit, and was suspended 20 games (later reduced to 14) for a hit in a preseason game in 2018.
Buchnevich went for payback later in the period, getting a two minute minor for slashing Wilson, contributing to the 72 penalty minutes dished out in the first five minutes of the game.
The Rangers are eliminated from playoff contention and saw their president and general manager fired with just three games to go in the season, but they made sure to stand up for their teammates, contributing to a grand total of six fights in the first five minutes.
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1