PITTSBURGH—Matt Niskanen said he did not attempt to injure Sidney Crosby on Monday night and, from his perspective, a collision was unavoidable given how quickly the play unfolded early in the Capitals’ 3-2 overtime win.

Niskanen was assessed a five-minute penalty for cross checking Crosby in the head 5:24 into the first period. The Caps defenseman also received a game misconduct.

Crosby did not return to the game.

“Crosby is taking a puck to the net across the crease there and a collision is going to happen,” Niskanen told reporters. “And it happened fast. I caught him high with a stick.”

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Niskanen acknowledged that the play looked bad but he reiterated that he had no intention of striking Crosby in the head. He also said he did not extend is arms to increase the force of the blow.

“Absolutely not,” Niskanen said asked if there was any intent. “It wasn’t intentional. I’ve seen the replay. In super slowmo, it looks really bad. I caught him high. He’s coming across trying to score. As he’s doing that, he’s getting lower and lower. And when it’s happening that fast, you know, my stick and his head collided. I wasn’t extending, trying to hit him in the head.”

He added: “I wasn’t trying to cross check him with a serious amount of force. A collision was going to happen there in the crease. When the play first starts, I think my stick is about his arm level, probably, right about where the numbers are on the side of his jersey. And because he’s trying to make a play, he’s getting lower and lower because he’s getting pressured trying to score.”


Crosby’s status is unclear as the Penguins declined to provide an update on their captain after the game.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps earn first win of the series over Crosby-less Penguins