OTTAWA, Ontario — Toronto Maple Leafs All-Star defenseman Morgan Rielly cross-checked Ottawa Senators middle Ridly Greig to the top with 5.1 seconds remaining in a hotly contested sport Saturday evening between Atlantic Division rivals.
Greig had simply sped into the Maple Leafs’ zone and fired a slap shot into an empty internet, sealing Ottawa’s 5-3 victory, and Reilly took exception to the emphatic nature of the aim, setting off a scrum close to the groups’ benches.
“We obviously didn’t like the result on the empty netter,” Toronto captain John Tavares mentioned. “So, we’re going to stick together and stand our ground when necessary.”
Typically, with empty-net targets — an indication the sport’s final result has been determined — the scoring group merely pushes the puck into the web, or maybe tries a wrist shot, in order to not present up the shedding opponent. Very not often do they wind up with a slap shot, particularly so near the crease.
“I thought it was appropriate,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe mentioned after the loss, when requested his ideas on Rielly’s determination. “I’m sure [the league] will look at it, yeah.”
Keefe despatched out enforcer Ryan Reaves for the ultimate faceoff, however the officers rapidly jumped in to forestall a brawl.
“He was reacting to a play,” Keefe mentioned of Rielly. “Their player has the right to do what he wants in that moment. And our players have the right to react. And it’s the emotions of the game.”
Ottawa coach Jacques Martin noticed the state of affairs otherwise.
“He put the puck in the net,” he mentioned of Greig. “Whether he shoots it or pushes it, [Rielly’s reaction], that shouldn’t happen.”
Indeed, it was an emotional evening in Canada’s capital, as Shane Pinto had a aim and two assists for the house group. Claude Giroux, Vladimir Tarasenko and Josh Norris additionally scored for Ottawa in its return from a 10-day break. Joonas Korpisalo made 31 saves for the Senators earlier than Greig closed the scoring.
“You never really know what Greiger’s going to do,” Norris mentioned. “I mean, I love it, but I’m sure, obviously, if we’re on the other side of that I don’t know if we would like it either. I didn’t really like the retaliation, but I understand their frustration, but it’s over with and I guess it was entertaining.”
The Senators have received three in a row.
“It was really good,” Martin mentioned of his membership’s first sport again. “I really liked the way our players responded and to me that was very satisfying.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.