MONTREAL – Coach Rick Tocchet wants his Tampa Bay Lightning to beat the Washinton Capitals to prove they can do it, not out of revenge for Alex Ovechkin’s 50th goal celebration.
The Lightning play at Washington on Friday night, the first meeting between the clubs since Ovechkin’s now-famous hand-warming celebration after a goal in a 5-2 Capitals win on March 19.
The Caps have beaten Tampa Bay in all four of their meetings this season, outscoring them 21-9.
Tocchet was not happy with Ovechkin’s antics, but said he’s not looking for retribution.
“It’s kind of blown out of proportion,” he said Thursday as the Bolts prepared to face the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. “The only thing I was upset about was that he did it by our crease, in front of the goalie.
“You want to do it, do it by their bench. Sure, you like to see players react, but reacting is beating Washington and playing abrasive. It’s not being stupid. That’s the way I coach. Just play hard. Washington’s got our number and we’ve got to see if we can win a game. They’ve spanked us pretty good this year.”
Talk of Ovechkin’s goal celebration won’t go away.
Players and commentators have taken positions on both sides – that it was a refreshing dash of colour and emotion in the sport, or as CBC analyst Don Cherry said, it lacked class and amounted to taunting the lowly Lightning.
After his goal, Ovechkin lay his stick on the ice next to rookie goalie Mike McKenna’s net and acted like the stick was so hot he could use it to warm his hands
In Washington, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau erupted when the question of Lightning revenge was raised Thursday.
“You want to go there? It’s 10 frigging days since it happened,” he said.
“We have talked to Tampa’s coaches. We have said our speech. The people that are bringing that up are you guys (media). Nobody cares about it any more. You guys bring it up because you want to see a riot, then you want to talk about retribution. It’s the dumbest thing in the world.”