James Neal scored twice for Pittsburgh and Alex Ovechkin notched his first goal of the season for Washington in the 3-2 overtime win, but none of the post game conversation centered on either of those things.
All people wanted to talk about afterwards was the game’s only fight, a short scrap between Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham and Jay Beagle of the Caps.
Beagle got Asham’s attention with about six minutes gone in the third stanza when he gave Pens defenceman Kris Letang a bit of a retaliatory shot along the boards. Within seconds, the mitts hit the ice and we had ourselves a good old-fashioned donnybrook!
The Caps fourth-liner got things going with a crisp right hand, then missed with two more as the pair spun around just outside the Pittsburgh blue line. As Asham tried to shake the elbow pad off of his right arm, Beagle got him with three more shots (well, two and a half), including a pretty nice looking one to the side of the helmet. If that was where it had ended, there wouldn’t be much to talk about, but things quickly turned in the Portage la Prairie product’s favour.
He rocked Beagle with a right jab to the face and then knocked him to the ice with a second, tagging him right on the chin. It was a pretty good tilt, especially considering it was Beagles first NHL regular season fight, but that’s not what had people talking. No, it was what Asham did afterwards:
Most of the talk after the game was about how disrespectful the “goodnight” gesture was, but to his credit, Asham agreed:
“I was into the game and it was uncalled for. Classless on my part”
In that same NHL.com article, former teammate Mike Knuble calls Asham an “honest player” who was “just doing his job” out there. Obviously it was a bit tasteless given the result of the fight, but I don’t even think he knew that Beagle was out cold on the ice with blood pouring from his face at that moment!
As soon as his opponent hit the ice, Asham was already on his way to the penalty box, celebrating his win. Say what you want about the guy, but he took responsibility for his lapse of judgment right away and held himself accountable. If you still think he’s a jerk, you can take solace in the fact that punching full force into another player’s visor would hurt like hell and he’ll probably be feeling that for a while.
At the end of the day, if a guy whose job it is to fight can’t celebrate when he lands a massive haymaker, what can he celebrate?
What do you think: Is this whole thing overblown or did Asham cross the line?