Laviolette calls out 'vicious' hits after Rangers' loss

ByGreg Wyshynski ESPN logo
Friday, April 12, 2024

New York Rangers coach Peter Laviolette called two hits by New York Islanders players "vicious" after an intense 4-2 loss at UBS Arena on Tuesday night.

With 11:09 left in the third period, Rangers center Mika Zibanejad skated into the shoulder of Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech at center ice while both were watching play down in the Rangers' zone.

Zibanejad fell flat to the ice and Rangers training staff tended to him. Zibanejad left for the dressing room and didn't return to the ice for the rest of the period, although he did return to the Rangers' bench near the end of the game, according to Laviolette.

"He came back at the end from that vicious hit. He came back. That vicious shoulder, elbow to the head. Watch it," the coach said.

When asked if he felt it was less an accidental collision with Pelech and more an intentional hit, Laviolette said, "I do."

Islanders coach Patrick Roy said, emphatically, that the collision was accidental. "No, it was accidental. The referee was in a really good position to see it. I was more afraid that Pelly might get hurt on that one. (Zibanejad) was the one that hit Pelly. It was totally accidental. There's no doubt in my mind," he said.

"I don't know why we're talking about this, quite honestly. I'm a little surprised. It's clear in my mind that it was accidental. We could talk about it for an hour if you want to, but I think we're wasting our time. It was accidental, added Roy.

Regarding Laviolette's comments, Roy said, "sometimes, frustration makes you say things."

Later in the third period, with the Rangers' net empty, forward Vincent Trocheck was crushed from behind into the end boards on a hit from Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson.

After the Islanders' Anders Lee clinched the game with an empty net goal, an incensed Trocheck got in the face of referee Kelly Sutherland.

"Vicious, from behind," said Laviolette of the Dobson hit. "It was hard out there tonight having to get through all of that. It was hard, but our guys kept fighting and battling until the end."

Roy said that the puck was in the air during the hit and that Trocheck should "expect that we were going to go after this one." The coach said Dobson tried to lay off on the hit and make contact from the side.

In the game, the Rangers had three power plays, scoring twice, while the Islanders had two and did not score.

The win gave the Islanders 87 points in 78 games, remaining two points ahead of the Washington Capitals in third place in the Metro Division.