Cooke's collision causes chaos in Penguins' loss
WASHINGTON — Leave it to a reasonably dull 3-0 Penguins loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday to fuel hockey's hottest rivalry.
Despite his team soundly defeating the shorthanded Penguins, who are without star centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau unleashed a postgame tirade aimed at Penguins forward Matt Cooke.
Boudreau took issue with a collision between Cooke and Capitals' star Alex Ovechkin with 3:42 left in a game that was preceded by talk of possible retaliation for a Capitals hit against Crosby during the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
"It's Matt Cooke," Boudreau said. "Need we say more?"
Boudreau said much more.
"It's not like it's his first rodeo," he said. "He's done it to everybody and then he goes to the ref and says, 'What did I do?' He knows (darn) well what he did. There's no doubt in my mind."
Boudreau made it clear he believes Cooke, who was penalized, tried to injure Ovechkin.
"He's good at it," Boudreau said. "He knows how to pick this stuff. We, as a league, we still buy into this, 'Oh, it was accidental thing.' "
Boudreau coached Cooke for a part of the 2007-08 season. Cooke, who met with reporters about 20 minutes before Boudreau's comments, seemed puzzled by the commotion his collision caused. Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both landed punches on Cooke's face following the hit, though neither was penalized.
"I just tracked the puck," Cooke said. "He cut back on me. We clicked skates."
Boudreau wasn't irritated only by Cooke's hit but with the Penguins in general. In the third period, forward Tim Wallace, who was recalled Saturday from Wilkes-Barre, challenged Capitals left wing David Steckel to a fight and defeated him cleanly.
Steckel threw a blindside hit on Sidney Crosby during the Winter Classic, a blow some believe has caused Crosby's current concussion issues. Boudreau was incensed that the Penguins challenged the 6-foot-5, 217-pound Steckel to a fight.
"If anybody wants to build up this whole Crosby thing," Boudreau said, "I mean, he didn't hit him intentionally. I've coached him for eight years now, and he's never done it once. If they want to use that as a motivating tool, go ahead."
Regarding Wallace picking a fight with Steckel, Boudreau continued, "They send out a guy they call up and Mike Rupp, who's a fighter (and) knows Dave never fought, challenging him. It was crap."
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma didn't seem bothered by anything Cooke did.
Ovechkin drew the Penguins' ire two years ago in the playoffs when his knee-on-knee hit injured Sergei Gonchar.
"I didn't think much contact was made (by Cooke)," Bylsma said.
The Penguins didn't make much contact with the back of Washington's net. Crosby and Malkin, who is likely out for the season with a knee injury, were missed badly, as the Penguins rarely generated any offense.
"Make no mistake about it," defenseman Zbynek Michalek said. "They're our two best players. We miss them. But we've shown we can play well without them. (Sunday) wasn't our best game."
Brooks Laich scored on a rebound late in the first period to put the Capitals ahead, Marcus Johansson scored a shorthanded goal early in the second, and Mike Knuble put the game away with an empty-netter. Michal Neuvirth stopped all 22 shots he faced.
The teams meet again Feb. 21 in Pittsburgh.
"They don't like us," Boudreau said. "We don't like them."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins sign top pick Kapanen
- Based on glowing recommendation, Pens hire Agnew as assistant
- Penguins re-sign Megna, Samuelsson to 1-year deals
- Penguins are saying captain Crosby’s right wrist may need surgery
- Pens hope to reach long-term deal with Brandon Sutter
- New Penguins winger Spaling files for arbitration
- New general manager Rutherford, Penguins in favor of short-term deals