PITTSBURGH -- After the Pittsburgh Penguins' Game 3 loss to the Washington Capitals, the conversation and the criticism were again focused on Caps forward Tom Wilson's delivering a hard, injurious hit to an opponent's head with no consequences from the on-ice officials.
With just over 10 minutes left in the second period, Wilson lined up Penguins puck carrier Zach Aston-Reese with a hit near the Capitals bench. Aston-Reese fell to the ice, bleeding, and the impact carried Wilson onto his bench. Aston-Reese got up, skated over to the Penguins' bench and left through the tunnel for treatment, missing the rest of the Penguins' 4-3 defeat to Washington on Tuesday.
It was the second straight game in which Wilson delivered a high hit that made contact with a Penguins player's head and knocked him out of a game. In Game 2, it was defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who returned to the lineup for Game 3. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said that Aston-Reese will not make the same quick recovery.
"We lose a guy to a broken jaw that's going to require surgery and a concussion because of another high hit to the head," Sullivan said. "At some point, we would hope that the league might do something."
Wilson didn't receive a penalty for either hit. Nor did he receive a hearing from the NHL Department of Player Safety for his hit on Dumoulin.
Paul Devorski, the NHL on-site supervisor of officials, said the game officials consulted with each other about the hit and decided not to penalize Wilson.
"Obviously, both referees didn't put their arm up, so obviously they didn't think there was a penalty," Devorski said. "So now they bring in the linesmen, who if they think it's a major penalty, they'll tell the referees. So they all got together, and they said, 'You know what? We've got a good, clean check here.'"
Capitals coach Barry Trotz said it was "a hard hockey hit" and grew testy when asked a follow-up question about Wilson during the postgame news conference.
"I already said what I'm going to say about the hit. I'm not going to comment any more," Trotz said. "I really don't care what [Sullivan] said. I'm not on their medical team, so I couldn't tell you. All I saw was the hit. Shoulder on shoulder. Both guys braced for it."
Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto doesn't buy that line of reasoning, and he took to Twitter to say that he thinks Wilson's hit was aimed at Aston-Reese's head.
How do you break a jaw when it's "just shoulder-to-shoulder"?— bill peduto (@billpeduto) May 2, 2018
The Penguins players, meanwhile, were irate that Wilson laughed on the Capitals bench as Aston-Reese lay on the ice with a broken jaw.
"It's disrespectful. Guy's hurt, laying on the ice. Not too good to be laughing at something like that," defenseman Justin Schultz said.
Defenseman Kris Letang loudly berated Wilson from the Penguins bench and called out his reaction to the injury.
"I get the physical game. I get the physical play. I've been on the wrong side of it," Letang said. "At the end of the day, I respect what kind of game he plays. But you don't laugh at somebody getting hurt. You don't do that."
Game 4 is Thursday in Pittsburgh. The Capitals hold a 2-1 series lead.