By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When two physical teams face off in a playoff series, it’s only a matter of time before the nastiness kicks up a notch.READ MORE: David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask Recognized By NHL Players As Some Of The Best In The Game
For the Bruins and Islanders, that happened in the second period of Saturday night’s Game 4.
In the midst of a board battle in the Bruins’ end, Islanders forward Mat Barzal issued several cross-checks to the lower back of David Krejci. The Bruins’ second-line center pushed back after the second cross-check, but after the third, he let his stick fly up into the midsection of Barzal.
Barzal immediately dropped to the ice, and the referee’s hand went up, as it appeared as though Krejci had caught Barzal in the groin.
The officials initially issued a major penalty for slashing on Krejci, but upon review, the penalty was downgraded to a minor penalty.
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Krejci spears Barzal. It's called as a major and reviewed, but becomes a slashing minor. pic.twitter.com/iWbywD6rXg
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) June 6, 2021
Krejci served his two-minute penalty, Barzal participated in the resulting power play, and there were no other instances of over-the-top aggressiveness for the remainder of the game.
Barzal would, however, go on to score what proved to be the game-winner, batting a deflected puck out of the air and past Tuukka Rask to give New York a 2-1 lead. With two empty-net goals, the Islanders won 4-1 to even the series at two games apiece.
After the game, Krejci and Barzal had vastly different opinions on what took place during their on-ice altercation.
“Obviously wasn’t happy about it,” Krejci said of Barzal’s cross-checks, before adding a dig. “He went down pretty easily. But it is what it is. Yeah.”
Krejci seemed to have been suggesting that Barzal embellished the contact a bit.
But Barzal indicated that he seemed to believe that the major penalty call should have held up after review.
“I was a little surprised. I haven’t seen the clip yet. I felt it was a little vicious,” Barzal said. “But it’s the ref’s call there. It’s a judgment call from them. Yeah, I thought it was a tad vicious.”MORE NEWS: Don Sweeney Explains Bruins' Potential Plan At Goaltender, With Free Agent Tuukka Rask Set For Surgery
Clearly, the two involved parties don’t see eye-to-eye — or stick-to-cup — on what exactly transpired. We’ll find out if there’s any residual viciousness going either way when the puck drops on Game 5 on Monday night in Boston.