WATCH: Kris Letang crashes into boards after Alex Ovechkin slash

PITTSBURGH -- The first 40 minutes of Tuesday's Penguins-Capitals game, which Washington won by a 3-1 margin, were about as dull as an NHL game between two playoff teams -- and long-time rivals -- can possibly be. 

Then, early in the third period all hell broke loose after Penguins defenseman Kris Letang had to briefly leave the game after crashing into the boards behind the Pittsburgh net following a slash from Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.

As the two players were in a race for a loose puck, Ovechkin swung his stick and instead of hitting the puck, hit Letang directly in the ankle, knocking him off of his skates as he slid back-first into the boards.  

Here is a look at the play (via @PeteBlackburn).

Whether the hit on Letang's leg was intentional or not (and your opinion on that will likely depend on which team you're cheering for) that is still a textbook slash. There was no penalty called on the play.

After the game Ovechkin said he was simply trying to shoot the puck on net and that he didn't think a penalty should have been called.

"Obviously it was a battle and the puck was at his feet," said Ovechkin, who also scored his league-leading 37th goal of the season and added an assist in the win. "I went to take a shot on net. Unfortunately, he feel and hit the boards, but he's okay now."

That is pretty much the opinion that was shared by Ovechkin's coach, Barry Trotz. 

"They thought it was dirty, but if you look at it (Ovechkin) is just trying to whack at the puck there," said Trotz. "I just think we're just making a lot of of nothing right now. The speed of the game, ice is really slippery at the beginning of the period, so he went in a little heavier than he probably would have late in the period.

"He's trying to whack it at the net, there's no reason for (Ovechkin) to do anything like that if you think about common sense in this game. He's just trying to whack it towards the net so he doesn't turn it over. Unfortunately, it looked worse than it did, but I can guarantee you that there's no intent there, so I think it's really a dead issue and it's something that everyone's trying to make a big deal about, but it's not."

Penguins coach Mike Johnston would only say that he didn't like it and that he assumed that none of the officials on the ice saw it, otherwise they would have called it. 

From there things started to escalate. On the ensuing faceoff two Penguins attempted to go after Ovechkin in an effort to get him to fight, and then once Ovechkin returned to the bench a fan threw a drink into the Capitals bench. Then, Pittsburgh's Max Lapierre attempted to go after Eric Fehr before a faceoff in the Washington zone. 

Letang eventually returned to the game after missing a couple of shifts. 

CBS Sports Writer

Adam Gretz has been writing about the NHL and taking an analytical approach to the game since the start of the 2008 season. A member of the PHWA since 2015, he has spent more than three years covering... Full Bio

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