April 16, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) punches Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner (27) during the third period in game three of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Verizon Center. The Bruins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
Chippy play in Game 3 led to accusations of intentional head shots by the Bruins from Capitals head coach Dale Hunter.
After trading overtime wins in Boston during the first two games of their Eastern Conference Quarter-Final playoff series, the Boston Bruins took a 2-1 series lead when Zdeno Chara's shot from the point was tipped by Washington Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik and by goalie Braden Holtby with 1:53 to play in a Game 3 that turned ugly at the final whistle.
The Capitals will be without center Niklas Backstrom, who was suspended for one game after receiving a match penalty for cross-checking Bruins forward Rich Peverley in the face at the final whistle of Monday night's game. Capitals head coach Dale Hunter disagrees with the decision to suspend Backstrom, arguably the Caps' most well-rounded player, and accused the Bruins of intentionally targeting Backstrom's head.
"Every scrum, Nicky comes out with no helmet on, he gets blockered to the head by (Bruins goalie Tim) Thomas the game before. He’s protecting his head," Hunter said. "He just came off for 40 games. You have to protect your head."
Bruins head coach Claude Julien understands what Hunter is doing, but vehemently denies that his team is engaging in that behavior.
"It’s ludicrous. It’s ridiculous," Julien said. "I don’t blame Dale for defending his player, if that’s what he’s trying to do. To me, it’s going to war for your team, and I’m not commenting more on that. I’m not gonna comment on his comments on protecting his player, if that’s the case. But if he really believes the other way around, that’s the part that I don’t [understand]. Being accused of headhunting is ludicrous."
No. 2 Boston Bruins at No. 7 Washington Capitals
7:30 p.m. ET Thursday-- Game 4, Eastern Quarterfinals | Bruins lead, 2-1
National TV: NBC Sports Network, CBC, RDS | Local TV: NESN, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic