Mitch Moreland Jersey

Tom Wilson’s aggression helped propel him from fourth-line
grinder into a difference-maker who skates alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas
Backstrom.

His teammates feed off the edginess of his play. His coach loves his
tenacity.

”There are very few Tom Wilsons in the league Sandy
Koufax Jersey
,” Barry Trotz said.

And in Game 4 of Washington’s increasingly prickly Eastern Conference
semifinal against Pittsburgh, there won’t be any at all.

The league suspended Wilson three games for his run-in with Penguins forward
Zach Aston-Reese that left the rookie with a concussion and a broken jaw.

Aston-Reese was skating in front of the Washington bench when Wilson’s left
shoulder hit some combination of Aston Reese’s shoulder and jaw in the middle of
the second period.

Following a brief conference among the on-ice officials, Wilson was not
penalized on the play and the Capitals used it as a rallying point on their way
to a dramatic 4-3 victory that gave them a 2-1 series lead.

The league, however, suspended Wilson following a hearing on
Wednesday Cheap
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, ruling the hit was illegal. The league
considered Aston-Reese’s head the initial point of contact and called the
incident avoidable.

The decision means the Capitals are now forced to push the two-time defending
Stanley Cup champions to the brink of elimination without one of their most
physical players.

Trotz defended Wilson, who has now been disciplined by the department of
player safety three times this season.

”It was a collision,” Trotz said Wednesday before the suspension was
announced. ”They hit and to me it looked like body on body. We’ve stopped it,
we’ve looked at it, there’s pictures all over the Internet that you can see. He
doesn’t leave his feet. It’s body-on-body. … I’m surprised the player has the
injury that he has.”

The incident overshadowed the kind of taut and electric play that’s come to
symbolize one of the NHL’s top rivalries.

Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins the lead with a goal late in the second
period only to have Washington – in a historically un-Washingtonlike move
whenever the Capitals face Pittsburgh – beat Matt Murray twice in the third to
win Babe Ruth
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, the last coming on Ovechkin bunting in a rebound of his
own shot with just 1:07 to play.

”I really believe this year has felt a little bit different,” Washington
forward Jay Beagle said. ”Even in season when we would get down a couple goals
we could fight back. It seems like we’re never out of it.”

Then again, it’s been 36 months since the Penguins have exited the postseason
without the Cup on the team plane.

Pittsburgh has ripped off nine consecutive series victories during its run at
the top, and has only trailed after three games once, in last year’s Eastern
Conference final against Ottawa.image

The Penguins rebounded to win in seven games and there’s hardly any panic.
It’s not what Pittsburgh does.

The other thing the Penguins try not to do? Get so caught up in trying to
retaliate against Wilson that they forget why they’re out there in the first
place.

Defenseman Kris Letang pointed to his team’s antagonist – and entirely legal
– response to Wilson in Game 3 as proof.

Jake Guentzel delivered a shot into the end boards. Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak
basically begged Wilson to fight Authentic
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, but didn’t take it too far when Wilson
failed to engage.

”After the whistle we walked away,” Letang said. ”There’s not much business
to do. I liked our answer.”

The Penguins will need another one if they want to keep their hopes of
becoming the first team in 35 years to three-peat alive. They’ve only dropped
consecutive games in the playoffs five times in two-plus years and have lost to
Washington only once in 10 all-time postseason meetings.

The Capitals have momentum on their side. Pittsburgh has history.

”It’s hard to win in the playoffs and you’re going to go through ups and
downs and emotional highs and emotional lows,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan
said. ”And it’s all about how you handle those and respond. … Right now our eyes
are on Game 4.”

UNDISCIPLINED OR PLAIN SLOPPY?

The Nashville Predators won the Presidents’ Trophy despite leading the NHL in
penalty minutes. They had played with much more discipline until melting down
with three consecutive penalties helping turn a 3-0 lead after the first period
into a 7-4 loss and a 2-1 deficit to the Winnipeg Jets.

Now Nashville faces a challenge on Thursday night (9:30 p.m. ET NBCSN) in
their Western Conference semifinal to avoid being pushed to the brink of
elimination in the best-of-seven series.

”We have a smart group,” Predators center Ryan Johansen said Wednesday. ”We
understand what we did wrong and what needs to be done.”

Not only did the Predators not help themselves with five penalties – three in
the third after tying the Jets at 4-4 – they didn’t play well after grabbing a
big lead.

”We just sat back too much,” Predators forward Filip Forsberg said.
”Obviously they scored a goal early and after that we just became passive
and Mitch
Moreland Jersey
, yeah, I don’t think it would have mattered which
team we were playing. If we play like that, we’re going to get scored on.”

WHERE’S PHIL?

Penguins forward Phil Kessel set a career high with 92 points during the
regular season, but has just one secondary assist through three games of the
series and – perhaps more troubling for. Indianapolis
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