Brooks Orpik and Olli Maatta are former teammates and share a mutual respect for one another, but the two were involved in a collision early in the first period Saturday night that could result in both players missing Game 3 of the second-round series between the Capitals and Penguins.
With 4:13 gone in the opening period of Game 2 at Verizon Center, Orpik drove his left shoulder into the chin of Maatta seconds after Maatta released the puck. Maatta, 21, looked woozy as he was helped off the ice and down the tunnel for medical treatment. He did not return.
Orpik was sent to the penalty box for an interference minor. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told NBC analyst Pierre Maguire in the second period that Orpik delivered a late hit and should have been given a 5-minute major.
Orpik, 35, could face a suspension for the hit because of its timing and the point of contact. Orpik has been suspended twice in his NHL career, but not since the 2005-06 season when he was given a three-game suspension for checking Carolina’s Erik Cole from behind. His other suspension was for one game in 2003.
If Orpik cannot play in Game 3, the Caps would need to turn to either Mike Weber or Dmitry Orlov, both healthy scratches in Game 2.
If Maatta is unable to play for Pittsburgh, look for the Penguins to go with Justin Schultz on their third defense pairing.