NEW YORK -- It is not often that you see Ryan McDonagh lose his even-keel demeanor, but he could not help venting his frustrations to the nearest on-ice official during a stoppage in the second period.
The steady New York Rangers defenseman, who many assume to be the odds-on favorite to become the team’s next captain, seemed livid with Pittsburgh Penguins dynamo Sidney Crosby after one shift in particular during the second period of Sunday’s 3-1 win.
The frustrated superstar, who has been held without a point in the past two games, appeared to kick the skate of McDonagh’s defensive partner Dan Girardi, sending Girardi sprawling to the ice. He later took a post-whistle whack at Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
No penalty was killed on either play.
Later in the game, an agitated Crosby was again at the center of a heated post-whistle exchange when he speared Rangers forward Dominic Moore in the groin -- a move that set off a chain of events that ended with a helmet-less Crosby, Rangers center Brian Boyle being forcibly separated by the refs and six penalty minutes assessed.
Moore responded to the spear with a cross-check. Kunitz hauled down Moore, and a blood-boiling skirmish ensued.
Even Lundqvist got in on the action, furtively dumping his water bottle on Crosby as the superstar center was down on the ice in a move that was awfully similar to the incident between Boston’s Shawn Thornton and Montreal’s P.K. Subban on Saturday night, resulting in a fine for the Bruins enforcer.
Coach Alain Vigneault indicated he was not pleased with the type of extra contact that Lundqvist has taken this series, sending a thinly veiled shot at some of the Penguins’ antagonists.
“I mean we’re just trying to play,” Vigneault said. “One of the concerns we have is there’s a lot of poking at our goaltender, after the whistle. Always their same guys, supposed to know, that goaltender are supposed to be protected.”
After the game, the Rangers declined to call out Crosby or any other Penguins player, chalking it up to an intense series and raw emotion.
“You can watch and see what happened. I don’t need to tell you,” Moore said of the spear, another play that is, alarmingly, becoming increasingly en vogue as the playoffs’ transgression du jour. “It’s the playoffs. That stuff happens.”
Defenseman Marc Staal, who has endured some criticism for a few particularly high hits on Crosby this series, said there have probably been some legitimate complaints on both side of the ice this series.
“There was a lot of stuff that people were getting away with,” Staal said. “Sometimes it's tough as referees to pick and choose what you’re going to call and what you’re not going to call. Sometimes you don’t know as players and you just do your best to protect yourself in certain situations and not put your team at a disadvantage.”
Boyle seemed unsurprised to see so much extracurricular activity from Crosby and others. In fact, he hinted at a spillover to be anticipated in Game 7.
“He’s playing hard. He’s got emotion. I’m sure we probably got away with a few things. It’s a series. Game 6 is over, but it doesn’t mean the series is over, obviously,” Boyle said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes.”