WASHINGTON -- The first two games of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals featured plenty of hitting, but little extracurricular activity and few penalties assessed.
That changed in Game 3. There was plenty of post-whistle pushing and shoving, penalty-inducing hits and even a match penalty at the final buzzer as the Bruins won 4-3 at Verizon Center to claim a 2-1 series lead.
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"I think that is playoff hockey. We all expect it to happen," Boston forward Daniel Paille said. "Personally, I love that type of emotion every night. You can see both teams showing that emotion. I hope it continues."
It was a physical contest between the whistles -- there were officially 84 hits doled out, including 58 by the Bruins. But there was also a significant rise in the shenanigans after the whistle was blown.
Milan Lucic and Nicklas Backstrom were sent to the penalty box at the start of the second period for a pair of minor penalties from a scrum at the end of the first. Lucic and Brooks Laich were sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct at 13:19 of the second for jostling before the puck was dropped on a faceoff.
"It was turned into like a rugby game there in the third with all the scrums and after the whistle stuff," Washington coach Dale Hunter said. "That happens sometimes. ... We can handle it. They want to have the scrums more and the physical play after the whistles and stuff to try and take our skill guys off their game, but the guys battled back."
Backstrom was in the middle of another incident at the end of the game, and that would prove to be costly. He was assessed a match penalty for attempting to cross-check Boston's Rich Peverley in the face.
It was actually Backstrom's third cross-check of the game, as he also went to the box with 3:14 remaining in the third for one to the back of Brad Marchand to go along with one on Lucic at the end of the first period.
He is automatically suspended until an official review by the League's Department of Player Safety.
"Well, they gave him a match, but I think the League will review it and rescind it," Hunter said. "If you see it, it wasn't that bad."
Added Boston coach Claude Julien on the incident: "I think it is normal that there is intensity and the rivalry is getting better as we move forward. We understand that those kinds of things are going to happen, but the only thing that is a little disappointing for me personally is that this is the third time in three games that our players have been cross-checked in the face. We saw one on Krejci where he was cut in Game 1 and Ovechkin on Seidenberg in Game 2 and now Backstrom, so you hope that those things don't get out of hand. I'm going to say the same thing I said last time -- somebody else has to deal with that and not us."
Backstrom also had a tripping penalty and finished the game with 16 penalty minutes. Dennis Seidenberg was sent to the penalty box for hitting Backstrom up high near the offensive blue line midway through the third period, and Lucic knocked Backstrom's helmet off during the scrum at the end of the first period.
Lucic, who has no points in the series, collected eight minutes in penalties for his part in three pre- and post-whistle incidents, including a double-minor late in the third period.
"This is playoff hockey," Julien said. "The emotions are going to run high and you've got to try and stay in control as best you can. At the end of the day, you look at your team and we killed that off and won a hockey game. ... I thought our guys did a great job of battling tonight and so did they and that's why it was another close game."