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The Rangers took matters into their own hands to open Wednesday’s game, fighting six different Capitals — including No. 1 enemy Tom Wilson — in retaliation for the Washington forward taking cheap shots at Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich two nights earlier.
Immediately after the puck was dropped, Rangers forwards Kevin Rooney, Colin Blackwell and Phillip Di Giuseppe fought Capitals forwards Carl Hagelin, Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway.
Wilson’s first shift Wednesday lasted only a few seconds before he fought Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith, who further was penalized for instigating.
Rangers defenseman Anthony Bitetto and Washington’s Michael Raffl also squared off, as did New York forward Ryan Strome and Lars Eller.
The six fights occurred in the opening 4:14 of the game, as a parade of players filled the penalty boxes. Thirteen total penalties were assessed in that time.
Payback was expected from the Rangers, especially after the NHL chose not to suspend Wilson, a repeat offender, for punching a defenseless Buchnevich in the head and threw Panarin to the ice during a fracas after the whistle.
Wilson was fined $5,000 for his actions, and the Rangers slammed the NHL for not doing more.
“The New York Rangers are extremely disappointed that Capitals forward Tom Wilson was not suspended for his horrifying act of violence last night at Madison Square Garden,” the team said in a statement Tuesday. “Wilson is a repeat offender with a long history of these type of acts and we find it shocking that the NHL and their department of player safety failed to take the appropriate action and suspend him indefinitely. Wilson’s dangerous and reckless actions caused an injury to Artemi Panarin that will prevent him from playing again this season.
“We 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.”
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