OTTAWA – A day after the Ottawa Senators evened up their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final with the New York Rangers at a game apiece, the talk included Brendan Shanahan as much as it did Chris Neil’s Game 2 winner.
Both Carl Hagelin of the Rangers and Matt Carkner of the Senators had hearings Sunday with Shanahan, the NHL’s head disciplinarian.
Hagelin delivered an elbow to the head of Senators’ captain Daniel Alfredsson in the second period, knocking him out of the game.
Carkner, meanwhile, received and instigator penalty, fighting major and game misconduct after he pummelled Rangers’ forward Brain Boyle to the ice early in the first period. That came in response to Boyle delivering several jabs to the head of Senators’ defenceman Erik Karlsson in Game 1.
Boyle never dropped his gloves or threw a punch during the altercation with Carkner, which helped spark Ottawa’s 3-2 victory.
“We discussed the incident this morning and I pleaded my case and now he’s going to figure out what he’s going to do,” Carkner said of his 20-minute phone conversation with Shanahan.
“Basically it was an instigated fight and I got the game misconduct as well and I got kicked our so I think that’s enough, but we’ll see.”
Carkner said Shanahan asked him to share his thoughts about the incident, and after an optional Senators’ skate in which Carkner took part Sunday, he discussed the Hagelin hit that leaves Alfredsson’s status for Monday’s Game 3 in question.
“Basically that’s what we’re shown not to do. Alfie was trying to get out of the way and you could see Hagelin reach in and target the head,” Carkner said. “In my opinion something should be done but again we’ll have to wait and see.”
Carkner also received praise from his teammates and coach for his actions Saturday.
“We wanted to be more physical as a group. We came out and set the tone and it paid off for us. Matt came out and did what he had to do and you can’t say enough about it. You need to play tough out there and we did that as a group,” said Neil, who also fought Boyle on Saturday night.
While no one was talking about Alfredsson’s health Sunday, his loss would be a huge blow to a young Senators’ group that is trying to upend the conference’s No. 1 seed. They are hoping, however, that the home crowd will be able to give them a boost.
“We’re excited to see the reception we here at home and now we have the opportunity to use the crowd to our advantage and hopefully they give us that extra bit of energy to take control of the series,” Senators’ forward Jason Spezza said.
“You never want to see your captain down and Alfie doesn’t stay done unless he’s hurt so it was a scary moment for us. He’ll be resting today and we’ll see where it goes but it was definitely a dirty hit and a dangerous play and you never like to see a guy get hit like that.”
Karlsson, who has been a constant target of the Rangers since the series began, says the Senators just need to continue to stand up to the Rangers.
“We’re feeling pretty good obviously but tomorrow is another game and we’re going to play it like it’s our last,” Karlsson said.
“We wanted to respond to Game 1 and a couple of guys stepped and did their jobs and it was good for our team. It’s tough for us to lose Alfie and hopefully he’ll be fine, but whatever happens to Hagelin is out of our control. It doesn’t matter what I think or what anybody else thinks, it’s up to the league right now and I’m sure they’ll make the right decision.”
Game 4 of the series is also in Ottawa on Wednesday and the teams will shift back to Madison Square Garden for Game 5 on Saturday. Senators’ coach Paul MacLean says his teams needs to keep up with the intensity it showed in Game 2.
“First round playoff hockey is physical. We weren’t as physical as we needed to be,” MacLean said. “We were more physical in the second, and we need to be more physical again in the third.”
The question remains will they be doing it with or without Carkner.