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Capitals, Rangers Open with Line Brawl in 1st Meeting Since Tom Wilson Incident

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 03: Tom Wilson #43 of the Washington Capitals takes a roughing penalty during the second period against Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on May 03, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It was inevitable.

The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals wasted no time getting into things Wednesday and had a line brawl right as the official went to drop the puck to start the game.

Sportsnet shared a look at the fallout:

Sportsnet @Sportsnet

The puck drops and the gloves come OFF! πŸ₯Š<br><br>What a start for the Rangers and Capitals. pic.twitter.com/KvhUtPw52p

That wasn't it, as Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith got into it with Tom Wilson almost as soon as the latter stepped onto the ice.

Sportsnet @Sportsnet

Tom Wilson steps onto the ice for the first time and is immediately met by <br>Brendan Smith. πŸ‘€ pic.twitter.com/dC8KqjvSXl

Sportsnet @Sportsnet

We're not even five minutes in... pic.twitter.com/D7Q1GphQJ3

Sportsnet @Sportsnet

pic.twitter.com/VyOlycWafC

Tim Reynolds @ByTimReynolds

NHL high for team penalty minutes in a game this season was 42.<br><br>The New York Rangers needed less than five minutes to get there tonight.

Sportsnet Stats @SNstats

Capitals vs Rangers<br><br>1st game in NHL history to feature 6 fights within the first 5 minutes of the game#ALLCAPS#NYR

The fighting didn't stop there, as Dan Rosen of NHL.com noted Wilson and Kevin Rooney left the ice for the rest of the first period after they were each issued 10-minute misconduct penalties.

Washington announced Wilson was eventually ruled out for the rest of the game with an upper-body injury.

Wilson was the primary storyline coming into Wednesday's game, as he punched Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head when the Rangers forward was face down on the ice during Monday's game. New York also lost Artemi Panarin for the rest of the season when he was injured after Wilson flipped him onto the ice.

Much of the frustration from New York's side surely stemmed from the lack of significant punishment from the NHL.

The league announced it fined Wilson $5,000 for the incident, which was the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement. However, there was no suspension for the controversial Capitals forward.

That didn't sit well with the Rangers, who released a stunning statement that said they were "extremely disappointed that Capitals forward Tom Wilson was not suspended for his horrifying act of violence last night at Madison Square Garden."

The statement also said the Rangers "view this as a dereliction of duty by NHL head of player safety, George Parros, and believe he is unfit to continue in his current role."

New York Rangers @NYRangers

pic.twitter.com/M7tw4YOeDF

This is nothing new for Wilson, who is known for his dirty hits and borderline play. He has been suspended five different times and is frankly fortunate to not have more suspensions throughout his career.

In the aftermath of this drama, the Rangers announced on Wednesday that they parted ways with president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton. Associate general manager Chris Drury will take over both roles.