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Both sides criticize Anisimov goal celebration

by Dave Lozo

NEW YORK -- It's not too often in the NHL when a player crosses a line during a game or breaks an unwritten rule and both teams chastise the action. Usually, one team will defend its player, the other will tell you how wrong he was.

On Thursday, everyone was in agreement that a celebration by Rangers forward Artem Anisimov went too far.

Following his shorthanded goal at 13:23 of the second period that gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 23-year-old Anisimov skated back toward the blue line, spun around toward the Lightning net, held his stick as if it was a rifle, and pretended to fire shots toward the Lightning players.

It set off a brawl as Lightning players angrily chased Anisimov, who received two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10-minute misconduct. There were 38 minutes in penalties assessed to both sides, but Anisimov's antics left the Rangers down two men for 34 seconds.

After the Lightning's 3-2 shootout victory, Rangers coach John Tortorella said he didn't want to make his player available to speak about the incident -- but made sure he was clear that he thought there was no place in the game for that type of celebration.

"He apologized to the team right away," Tortorella said. "These are lessons. I don't want to make a bigger deal out of it than it is. We need to move right by it. It was wrong. He knows that. I know the leadership of the club will take over to work him through this. He's a pretty innocent guy."

One of the first Lightning players to respond on the ice was captain Vinny Lecavalier. Rangers alternate captain Brad Richards said he completely understood why Lecavalier, a former teammate, reacted the way he did.

"He wasn't trying to embarrass anybody; he was celebrating a nice goal," Richards said. "But that's what happens in hockey."

Rangers' forward Artem Anisimov's celebration after scoring against the Tampa Bay Lighting ruffled plenty of feathers. (Photo: Getty Images)
While Tortorella and Anisimov's teammates showed remorse, the Lightning weren't as gracious.

"It's just classless," Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos said. "I think I've seen him do that once or twice before, so no surprise there. We got the win. He'll know it's in the back of our minds the next time we see him. But we're not going to break focus because of that. We wanted to win the game and we did.

"I don't know if you saw the replay, but he turned back and pointed the stick like a gun and shot it at Vinny. We don’t need that in our sport. For the most part, you don't see that too much. But it happens once in a while and it's dealt with."

"He pointed his stick and fired it our net, so I'm sure Torts wasn't really impressed with that," Lecavalier said. "He wasn't very respectful."

Tortorella said Anisimov will be made available to the media at Friday's practice.

"I guess I'm in a protective mode," Tortorella said. "I think he deserves to be protected because I know who he is. I don't blame Tampa at all as far as how they reacted. But I want to protect him. He's a solid, solid guy that made a mistake that I still don't think he really understands what he was doing there."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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