When Henrik Lundqvist took an incidental hit from teammate Ryan McDonagh in Pittsburgh on Thursday, he was not ready to continue playing. He expected a whistle but didn't get one from the referee, and so rather than put himself in harm's way, he did the only thing that he could think of to stop play: Throw the net off its moorings.
Lundqvist, who suffered neck spasms from the hit but is feeling better and anticipates returning to game action this weekend, said Monday the referee asked him if he was OK and that he perhaps waited too long to say he wasn't. The goaltender then tried to get the official's attention, but play had gone to the other end of the ice. His stick was in the corner but he didn't retrieve it because he didn't feel well enough to continue.
"When I realized the puck is in our end, I was not really ready to play. That was the truth," Lundqvist said. "I don't know how I came up with the conclusion to move the net, but that's what came up in my head, and I'm not gonna apologize for it because I was just not in a position where I could play the game. I needed a break."
The Rangers netminder was called for a delay-of-game penalty at 6:17 of the second, and after getting a few moments to shake off the hit, he played the rest of the second period. It wasn't until the second intermission when his adrenaline wore off that he felt he needed to come out of the game, which he did.
Lundqvist said he heard of Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fleury's "baby stuff" comment regarding Lundqvist's actions but didn't offer a retort.
"All I can say is I was not in position where I could play the game," said Lundqvist, who was upset he received a penalty after being left in a precarious situation. "I needed a whistle. If the ref's not gonna give me one I'm gonna deal with it my way. Could I have done it differently? Absolutely. But at the same time it was a really tough hit where I was not really thinking straight, I think. But I got the whistle."
Lundqvist was tested for a concussion, and passed, but his state of mind was at the very least colored by his rage from not getting a stoppage, as well as then getting called for a delay-of-game penalty for tossing his net off its moorings.
“I was not upset when I moved the net. I was upset afterwards because I got a penalty, because I was put in that position,” Lundqvist said. “But I was definitely not upset by the hit or anything. It happens. It was my own guy. So people were talking about I must have been really upset or frustrated, but no, I just needed a break, that’s it.”