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Caps disagree with Backstrom's suspension

by Corey Masisak

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Nicklas Backstrom admitted his mistake Wednesday, but the Washington Capitals were not happy about their star center being suspended for Game 4 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Boston Bruins after he was assessed a match penalty at the end of Game 3 for crosschecking Rich Peverley.

"We disagree with the NHL's decision to suspend Nicklas Backstrom," said a statement released by the Capitals. "This has been a competitive and physical series, and we do not understand why a suspension was imposed in this case while other incidents in this series have not been reviewed. Our singular focus now is on Game 4, and we look forward to the energy that our great fans provide."

Game 4 is Thursday night at the Verizon Center. Boston leads the best-of-7 series, two games to one.


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As the final seconds of a 4-3 victory for the Bruins ticked away Tuesday, Peverley and Alex Ovechkin exchanged unpleasantries in the corner behind the Washington net. Backstrom skated toward Peverley and crosschecked him in the visor.

Because Backstrom was assessed a match penalty on the play, he was suspended immediately upon an official review by the League's Department of Player Safety. NHL Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan on Wednesday night said Backstrom's actions were "excessive and reckless."

"Well, sometimes you think it's right decision, sometimes it's not, sometimes you want to laugh," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. "So right now I think it's kind of bad decision. But there is nothing you can do."

Backstrom ended up with 16 minutes of penalties in the game. It was only the second 10-minute misconduct of his career, and he'd never been whistled for more than two penalties before.

The incident with Peverley was the third cross-checking infraction of the game for Backstrom.

"Well he ... I did what I had to do. I think it was stupid on my part," Backstrom said. "I've got to deal with it now. One game, whatever I don't like it or whatever, I've got to deal with it.

"He was going after [Ovechkin] first, and then I was just turning around. That's all I can say. I'm sorry about that. It was stupid on my part."

Washington coach Dale Hunter said Tuesday the Bruins have been targeting Backstrom's head throughout the series, and he was defending himself after Peverley put his stick up first. Backstrom missed 40 games with a concussion this season after an elbow to the head from then-Calgary forward Rene Bourque.

"A little bit, but that's how the playoffs is," Backstrom said when asked if his head was being targeted. "I like when it's tough and stuff like that. There's nothing bad about that."

Game 3 featured a more snarly tone than the previous two even before the Backstrom-Peverley incident. Boston's Milan Lucic earned eight minutes in penalties from pre- and post-whistle scrums.

Backstrom was involved in one of those scrums with Lucic.

"I'm not going to make excuses for him, but I can guarantee you Nicky's not a guy that's going to think, 'Oh I'm going to go cross-check this guy in the face,'" defenseman Karl Alzner said. "I think by accident, but I wasn't in the situation. Everyone knows Nicky's not that kind of guy. He's a Lady Byng candidate. That's not his style."

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