Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson will not be suspended for Monday night’s Game 1 hit on Vegas Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety told ESPN.
Per ESPN, the league made the decision without a hearing, determining that the hit was late but not egregiously so. The league also noted Wilson did not make contact to Marchessault’s head, and that the hit came within normal flow of the game, rather than in a retaliatory manner.
With the game tied 4-4 in the third period, Wilson leveled Marchessault from the side with an open-ice body check through the torso, a second or two after Marchessault had passed the puck ahead into the Capitals’ zone. The Vegas forward did not see the hit coming as he watched the play ahead of him.
Marchessault, who leads the team in goals (8) and points (19) in the postseason after finishing second with 75 regular-season points, remained down on the ice for a minute and went through concussion protocol before returning to the game.
Wilson was given a minor penalty for interference, with Golden Knights winger David Perron drawing a matching minor for cross-checking.
“I saw the hit. I remember everything,” Marchessault said after the game. “It was a late hit. I don’t really need to talk more about it. I think the league will take care of it.”
“It was a late blindside hit like Wilson always does,” Vegas forward Ryan Reaves added.
Wilson, who was suspended three games earlier this postseason for a hit that broke Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese’s jaw, called the play a “good, clean hit” and part of “playoff hockey.”
“There are going to be hits,” Wilson said. “It’s a contact sport. That’s all that I saw.
“...He’d probably say he shouldn’t admire his pass. I’m just finishing my check. I haven’t slowed it down. I’ve been told that we’re talking tenths [of a second] here. I think it’s game speed, and I delivered it in good time.”
Wilson was also suspended two games in the preseason and four games during the regular season for hits against the St. Louis Blues that were deemed egregious by the NHL.
“When you play my physical style, you’re going to have that reputation,” he said. “I trust myself.”
Despite Wilson’s go-ahead goal — the Capitals’ fourth — early in the third period, the Golden Knights prevailed 6-4 in Game 1 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Las Vegas.
—Field Level Media