Capitals find out what happens when you target this Rangers superstar

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals entered Game 2 on Tuesday with a mission to punish Artemi Panarin every chance possible. What they weren’t expecting was the amount of fight back in the New York Rangers’ superstar, who scored 120 points and only picked up 24 penalty minutes during the regular season.

Throughout the match, the Capitals tried to harass Panarin as soon as he got the puck. Whether it was hitting, hooking, or holding, Washington was doing whatever they could to ensure he couldn’t get going offensively.

Related: Rangers take Game 2

Capitals pay price for targeting Rangers’ Artemi Panarin

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

One Capitals’ player in particular was going out of his way to play a physical game. T.J. Oshie made it a point to try and get under the Rangers’ skin with a trademark feistiness that ramps up in the playoffs. At one point, he even overzealously put the much bigger K’Andre Miller into the Blueshirts’ bench. However, Panarin was his target of choice and during a scrum grabbed him by the face to rough him up without being given a penalty.

Oshie’s antics didn’t end there, as an unpenalized high stick caught Panarin in the face. After the whistle, Panarin issued a warning to his assailant which he delivered on in the final frame.

At the 6:47 mark of the third period, Panarin put a heavy shoulder into Oshie’s chest and the follow through caught his jaw. Referees reviewed the play and determined there was no penalty on Panarin, but Capitals’ forward Connor McMichael deserved one for roughing him after the hit.

Oshie got up wobbly forcing NHL concussion spotters to pull him out of the game for a brief time. That had Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery completely miffed as to why there was no penalty on the play.

“They said it wasn’t a minor penalty was the only explanation I got,” Carbery said. “We watch a video at the beginning of the year of what they’re looking for, concussion symptoms on a hit, and who needs to be removed. To me, when the spotter removes him, there has to be some kind of contact with the head. So, that’s why we’re a little bit confused that he was removed with no contact to the head.”

Overall, the Capitals weren’t happy with the play as Dylan Strome wondered if the League might take a look at it to discipline Panarin after the fact. Washington’s resident tough guy Tom Wilson felt the Rangers’ star “went after” Oshie in a “vulnerable spot.”

Whether or not this animosity carries over in D.C. for Game 3 on Friday remains to be seen. What’s clear is that Panarin will not be intimidated or cower in the face of Capitals targeting.

By the way, Washington did manage to keep Panarin off the scoreboard. The Rangers won 4-3 anyway.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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