Jack Capuano’s opinion had not changed.
Nor had his anger.
A few short hours after Brian Boyle earned Capuano’s ire for leveling Thomas Hickey, then scoring the game-winning goal 2:48 into overtime, the coach of the New York Islanders reiterated his belief that the hit was late and deserved supplemental discipline from the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety.
“I just feel it was high. To me, it’s an odd man rush going the other way. It’s one of those calls the (officiating crew) has a split decision to make. So I’m going to stand by what I said. I thought the hit was high and it led to a really good scoring chance for them," Capuano said, before referencing the suspensions of Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang and Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik, without mentioning either player by name.
“These guys who are getting suspended for a game (Letang) or three (Orpik), it’s a fast game; they’re not playing dirty. They’re trying to finish their checks and do the right things. When things happen so fast--shoulders, elbows, sticks--they get up and they get up high. To me, seeing Thomas after the game bleeding out of his mouth and his teeth, he got hit in the head. I’m not going to change my opinion of it.”
And so, it’s likely Capuano and his Islanders will be in a foul mood come Friday (7 p.m., NBCSN) at Barclays Center, when they are presented with an opportunity to tie the best-of-seven series at two games apiece. The Lightning have a 2-1 series lead following the 5-4 win Tuesday night, a game which saw the Islanders blow leads of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3.
The Islanders practiced Thursday morning at Iceworks in Syosset.
Game 5 is set for Sunday afternoon at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
Capuano did not have an update on Hickey’s condition. Normally, part of the Islanders’ third defense pair, Hickey has been impressive in the first two rounds. Hickey has recorded a slash line of one goal and four assists for five points in nine playoff games while skating 20:26 per game.
“Just saw him briefly after the game, and just asked him how he was feeling after I talked to you guys (in the media),” Capuano said. “Hopefully (I’ll) have more of an update after he gets seen by our doctors and trainers sometime this afternoon.”
Hickey had a primary assist on Josh Bailey’s second goal of the game, and threw a thunderous open-ice check on Lightning left winger Jonathan Drouin. The hit left Drouin bloodied, but he returned to the game and recorded the primary assist on Nikita Kucherov’s game-tying goal with 39 seconds left in regulation. Drouin finished with the assist, three shots on goal, four attempted shots and a hit in 14:33.
“When Jonathan Drouin cut to the middle, (Hickey) hit him right in the chest,” Capuano said. “That’s an open ice hit. We’ve seen plenty of those, and it’s directly right in his chest, where the hit on Thomas Hickey, you can see his head snap back. You can see...the elbow up into the head area. So totally two different hits in the angles I have. It’s not even close.”