Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo avoided disciplinary action for joining in on a post-game scrum after leaving the penalty box after Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Pietrangelo was in the box serving a two-minute minor penalty for delay of game when the final horn sounded on a 3-2 Vegas win. That’s also when all hell broke loose on the ice.
Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill made a last-second stop to preserve the win as the Panthers crashed the crease. Florida’s Brandon Montour delivered a hit after the whistle on Vegas blueliner Brayden McNabb, driving him into the goalie. Players from both teams came together, with Vegas outnumbered by two, with the Panthers on the power play and their goaltender pulled for an extra skater.
Pietrangelo left the box, skated in slowly, and grabbed a hold of Barkov. Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk, objecting to the contact, wrapped his arm around the Vegas defenseman’s head to pull him away. They two players battled, with Tkachuk using his stick to pull Pietrangelo’s helmet forward, then delivering a slash.
Game 4 had been light on penalties, with just two minor penalties called during the actual game: Pietrangelo’s delay of game and a second period tripping call against Florida’s Marc Staal. At the 20:00 mark of the third, refs Wes McCauley and Steve Kozari tacked on an additional 28 minutes in penalties: 14 to Tkachuk, 12 to Montour, and two to Hill – the lone Vegas player penalized on that sequence.
Nothing was called on Pietrangelo.
There was some concern that the league may consider disciplinary action since the defensemen left the penalty box and joined the altercation. Rule 70.4 covers leaving the penalty box:
At a stoppage of play following the expiration of their penalties, if a player or players exiting the penalty bench get involved in an altercation, those coming from the penalty bench shall be assessed the penalties they incur in the altercation in addition to a game misconduct and a ten (10) game suspension as outlined in 70.10.
The first player to leave the players’ or penalty bench illegally during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation from either or both teams shall be suspended automatically without pay for the next ten (10) regular League and/or Play-off games of his team.
Pietrangelo didn’t leave the penalty box illegally. The game time expired, and the timekeeper correctly released him from the box.
One can argue that he also didn’t leave the box to start an altercation. The NHL rulebook defines an altercation as “a situation involving two players with at least one to be penalized.” Pietrangelo came out, skated slowly toward the scrum, and paired off with Barkov. The ‘altercation’ only came when Tkachuk came in with his stick, earning himself some penalties.
Also, the scrum that was taking place in the Vegas end was not, by definition, an altercation. Players standing around, shoving each other, is not automatically deemed to be an altercation, as noted above. It’s only when a player’s actions rise to the level of a penalty-worthy infraction that we have to consider it to be an altercation. There’s no way that was the case when Pietrangelo grabbed a hold of Barkov.
“I do think they’re going to take a look at it because technically you’re not supposed to leave the penalty box and do that,” said Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. “I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere but I do think they’re going to look at it.”
The league undoubtedly did, opting not to take any further action.
Had Pietrangelo gone flying in full speed and thrown off his gloves or leveled a Panther with an illegal hit, we’d obviously have a different situation on our hands. In this case, though, Pietrangelo didn’t do enough to justify supplemental discipline, let alone a ten-game ban.
The Vegas Golden Knights held on to win the game 3-2 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Referees for the game were Steve Kozari (#40) and Wes McCauley (#4), with linesmen Scott Cherrey (#50) and Brad Kovachik (#71).