The Carolina Hurricanes came into Capital One Arena on Monday and dominated the Washington Capitals, 6-1, on Monday night, but it wasn't exactly a happy visitor's locker room following the game.
That's because with just seconds remaining in the contest, Capitals center Lars Eller delivered a blow on Jesperi Kotkaniemi -- a hit that visibly shook up the Hurricanes center who needed some medical attention before slowly skating off the ice.
On Thursday, with the incident a few days removed, Eller joined 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies and shared his perspective of what happened on the play.
"I know it was kind of the last shift but I didn’t know if there were 30 seconds left or 10," Eller said. "The other team had the puck in our zone and as long as the clock is running, we’re going to do everything we can to not let them score another goal. It’s just pretty much how we play in the defensive zone."
Eller then explained that when Kotkaniemi entered the zone the Capitals center is responsible for covering. Eller did what he felt was needed in order to prevent Carolina from potentially tacking on a meaningless goal in a game where the outcome was already decided.
"He was coming into an area I need to cover. I tried everything I could to get shoulder on shoulder," Eller said. "I kind of lowered down and kind of just coasted into him – I didn’t really charge into him. I think it was sort of more gliding and made sure I didn’t head his head, which I don’t think I did. He was in a vulnerable position."
Eller also wanted to make it clear he was not trying to injure Kotkaniemi on the play and hopes the center is OK moving forward.
“First of all, I really hope he’s not injured and he’s going to be good to go next game," Eller said.
Unfortunately for Carolina, Kotkaniemi is expected to miss a few weeks with a lower-body injury, head coach Rod Brind’Amour said Thursday.
Monday night marked the last time Washington and Carolina are scheduled to play in the regular season, but there's a realistic chance the two teams meet in the playoffs. And if so, expect Carolina to have Eller's hit on Kotkaniemi in mind when the two squads take the ice together next.