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Niskanen ‘adamant’ he didn’t mean to cross-check Crosby

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones say Matt Niskanen deserved a five-minute major and ejection for not being in control of his stick but say it was a reactionary play with no premeditation.

Matt Niskanen feels badly that his former teammate is dealing with another concussion, and he regrets what happened Monday.

But the Washington Capitals defenseman is also “adamant” that he didn’t mean to cross-check Sidney Crosby in the side of the head.

“I regret that it happened, but I’m adamant that I’m not sure at that game speed what I could have done different,” Niskanen told reporters this morning ahead of Game 4 in Pittsburgh.

“Obviously, in super slo-mo and in hindsight, I wish I had one hand on my stick and my hands were way down. But the collision happened fast and Sid’s trying to score a goal, and he’s getting lower and lower as it happens. So my intent was not to forcefully cross-check him in the face. I think that anybody that knows me, I’m not trying to hit guys in the head.”

Read more: Capitals, Penguins reflect on Crosby’s ‘gut-wrenching’ injury

Niskanen received a five-minute major and was ejected from Game 3. But he wasn’t suspended and he’ll play tonight, while the Penguins’ captain and best player won’t.

“To be honest with you, I wasn’t even trying to hit him on that play,” said Niskanen. “It was a collision that happened because he was coming in with some serious amount of speed and trying to score. He’s getting lower and lower, partially because he’s falling down.”

The Capitals can tie the series 2-2 with a win tonight.

Related: Sullivan says game plan won’t change without Crosby