After the Monday night meeting between the two teams featured a violent and heavily-scrutinized incident, Wednesday night saw the hostility between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals pick up right where it left off with a number of fights to begin the game.
Upon the opening puck drop at Madison Square Garden, a line brawl broke out with three different fights breaking out between the Rangers and Capitals. Then, another fight broke out once Capitals right wing Tom Wilson hit the ice, with Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith going straight after him. Another skirmish occurred shortly afterwards.
The free-flowing fistcuffs between the Rangers and Capitals were a result of Monday night's game, which saw Tom Wilson injure Rangers forward Artemi Panarin by pulling him down and slamming him to the ground. Although Panarin suffered a lower body injury that will force him to miss the rest of the season, Wilson was only fined $5,000 for punching Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while he was face down on the ice.
The Rangers were furious with the lenience of the NHL's punishment for Wilson, who has an extensive history of suspensions for on-ice incidents. The Rangers issued a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday, calling Wilson's actions "dangerous and reckless" while also directly accusing NHL Head of Player Safety George Parros of "dereliction of duty" and of being "unfit to continue in his current role."
The Panarin saga is just one incident in a series of issues for the Rangers over the last several days. Wednesday afternoon, the franchise stunningly announced that both general manager Jeff Gorton and team president John Davidson had been fired.