‘No excuse’: Spitting storm erupts
Alex Ovechkin scored a powerplay goal, Garnet Hathaway was ejected for spitting during a heated brawl and the Washington Capitals beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 in feisty matchup Monday night.
Hathaway was given a match penalty and thrown out for spitting on Anaheim's Erik Gudbranson in the latter stages of a fracas between the teams late in the second period.
Even after the game misconduct that's automatic for spitting, Hathaway could face more discipline from the NHL office in the form of a fine or suspension.
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After some off-and-on hostilities in the first 39 minutes, Washington's Brendan Leipsic incited the brawl by bulldozing Anaheim's Derek Grant just before Chandler Stephenson scored to make it 3-0 Capitals.
Almost all 10 skaters on the ice got involved, and Hathaway fought Gudbranson, Grant and Nick Ritchie in a matter of minutes.
Officials were attempting to separate players when Gudbranson rabbit-punched Hathaway, who then spit in his face with referee Peter MacDougall a few feet away.
Officials checked the video before confirming a five-minute match penalty and game misconduct on Hathaway for spitting.
By the way, here's the reason for the match penalty for Garnet Hathaway. pic.twitter.com/e3W97zFSKV— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) November 19, 2019
Gudbranson, fellow Ducks defenceman Brendan Guhle, Ritchie and Leipsic were also penalised for their roles in the ruckus that took referees significant time to sort out.
A total of 55 penalty minutes were handed out as Hathaway was sent off, Gudbranson was given a 10-minute misconduct and Anaheim came up empty on its ensuing power play in the third before Jakub Vrana added a fourth goal for Washington.
After the match, Gudbranson was furious about the action from Hathaway.
"That's about as low as you dig a peg, really," he said. "It's a bad thing to do. It's something you just don't do in a game, and he did it."
Hathaway after the match appeared to be trying to downplaying the incident.
"I reacted a little emotionally and unfortunately, spit came out of my mouth after I got sucker punched and it went onto him," Hathaway said. "It has no place, it's an emotional play by me, you don't plan any of that stuff and it was a quick reaction from me and obviously the wrong one."
Yeah. This is obvious. Garnet Hathaway spitting on Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who had just sucker punched him. No excuse. 5 minutes and a match penalty for Hathaway. pic.twitter.com/3NK02DRxR4— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) November 19, 2019
Garnet Hathaway gets a match penalty for spitting in Erik Gudbranson’s face pic.twitter.com/KfjjkBMtVC— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) November 19, 2019
Derek Grant said of Garnet Hathaway spitting it’s “probably the most disrespectful thing you can do.”— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) November 19, 2019
So a match penalty for Garnet Hathaway. For spitting. He gone. 5-minute major there with the match penalty. Ducks got like 27 penalties, too. You never know what you're going to see at the ol' rink.— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) November 19, 2019
Garnet Hathaway admitted to spitting toward Gudbranson, regretted it.— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) November 19, 2019
Guhle had been agitating much of the night, almost dropping the gloves with Tom Wilson and tripping up Leipsic in various incidents.
It all paved the way for a brawl that overshadowed the NHL-leading Capitals winning their second in a row and picking up at least one point for the 14th time in 15 games.
Richard Panik's goal 50 seconds in was his first point in 13 games since signing with Washington.
Ovechkin's powerplay goal was the 254th of his career, one shy of third on the all-time list.
Braden Holtby had 32 saves for the win, and Ducks goaltender John Gibson made several spectacular saves to keep his team in the game.
Gibson stopped 26 of the 30 shots he faced, losing for the 10th time in 17 starts despite third-period goals from Sam Steel and Nicolas Deslauriers.
This story first appeared in the New York Post and was republished with permission.