By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Playoff hockey is just a little different than regular-season hockey. Tuukka Rask and Garnet Hathaway provided a reminder of that on Wednesday night.
Late in the second period of Game 3 of the first-round playoff series between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals, Hathaway tried to step to the goalmouth to slip a puck past Rask, and the 6-foot-2, 212-pound winger did not particularly care if he made contact with the Bruins’ netminder in the process.
Hathaway did indeed make contact with Rask, thanks to a nudge from Bruins center Charlie Coyle, and it was somewhat significant — at least significant enough to rile up Rask. The veteran Rask likely knew that such contact would be looked at as incidental by the referees, so the 34-year-old Finn decided to enact justice himself.
So he started punching.
With Coyle applying pressure to Hathaway’s back, a maskless Rask sought out Hathaway’s face and released a quick right. An enraged Rask then threw a couple of more punches with his blocker, before looking up to referee Dan O’Rourke with a slightly perplexed look.
Tuukka Rask is NOT pleased with Garnet Hathaway: pic.twitter.com/CGKRhQNl6A
— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) May 20, 2021
Tuukka Rask lays into Garnet Hathaway with the blocker pic.twitter.com/L0JRyJlkgQ
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) May 20, 2021
No penalties were called after the scrum, Rask immediately had to make a save off the ensuing faceoff, and life went on. The Bruins eventually won 3-2 in double overtime, with Rask making 35 saves on 37 shots.
After the win, a nonchalant Rask stated that he just needed to let it be known that he won’t be welcoming to any intruders to his crease.
“Just protecting myself,” Rask said. “I’m not surprised there’s not a penalty. It’s going to take a lot for them to call anything. So I figured I’ll let him know that if he comes close …. maybe I gave him a couple too many. I don’t know. That’s what the ref thought.”
There are many ways messages can be delivered in the playoffs. A forceful jab with a blocker is certainly one effective method.
And considering the series has been as close as can be, with all three games going to overtime thus far, it’s fair to assume that some more message-sending will be taking place on both sides when the puck drops for Game 4 on Friday night in Boston.