NEW YORK -- In his first three seasons in the NHL, Tom Wilson has piled up 421 penalty minutes in his first 189 games. On Thursday night at Barclays Center he was assessed his first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for mouthing off to an official.
Wilson had finished a check along the wall and was knocked down in the crease by Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy. When Wilson tried getting up, Leddy cross-checked him back to the ice.
Frustrated that a call was not made on Leddy, Wilson complained to referee Tim Peel on his way to the Capitals bench and was hit with hockey’s version of a technical foul.
“Obviously, I felt it was a bit of a cross-check or I wouldn’t have said anything,” said Wilson, who is third in the NHL with 98 penalty minutes. “It’s the heat of the game, but there’s no reason for me to open my mouth.
“Those are veteran refs. They’re good refs. You can get away with saying a lot and I gave my opinion and obviously, he didn’t want to hear it. But at that moment of the game I need to be more professional, be more aware and be more mature and realize that’s not the time of game to be expressing your emotions verbally toward the refs.”
The Capitals owned a 2-1 lead at the time of Wilson’s penalty and needed big blocks by Matt Niskanen and Brooks Laich and two big saves by Braden Holtby to keep the Islanders from tying the score. Six seconds after Wilson was released from the box, Caps defenseman drilled a drop pass from Nicklas Backstrom past goaltender Jaro Halak to give the Caps a 3-1 lead in an eventual 4-1 win.
After the game Trotz said he was happy with his team’s resilience during the penalty kill but was not happy with Wilson putting them in that position. Wilson agreed.
“It’s not like different (refs) are more sensitive, it’s just respecting the officials as a whole,” he said. “We don’t want to be known as a team that’s yelling at the refs. We just need to play and let them do their jobs. I lost it for five seconds, said an ‘F’ word and if he decides to call it, it’s in his hands. I’ve just got to make sure I just come to the bench, come out the next shift and keep playing.”
Wilson said he and linemate Jason Chimera struck an instant chemistry with Marcus Johansson when the three were united following the hand injury to center Jay Beagle. Johansson, who will miss this weekend’s games against the Rangers and Senators while serving a two-game suspension, is expected to be replaced with either Michael Latta or Hershey call-up Paul Carey today at Madison Square Garden (1 p.m., CSN).
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