Was the hit by Wild winger Marcus Foligno that knocked Jets defenseman Tyler Myers from Game 3 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday a cheap shot?
That depends on whom you ask but this much is certain: That second-period play created even more bad blood in a series the Jets lead 2-1 after losing 6-2 to the Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Game 4 will be Tuesday night in St. Paul. Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice declined to give an update on Myers’ status Monday, but his loss would be a significant one.
Myers has two goals in the series, including one Sunday, and was second among Jets’ defensemen in scoring this season with 36 points, including six goals.
The Wild entered the third game knowing they had to play a more physical brand of hockey after the bigger Jets manhandled them in a 4-1 victory in Game 2 on Friday night in Winnipeg.
On the play in question, the 6-foot-3 Foligno and the 6-foot-8 Myers, who developed a friendship during their time as teammates with the Buffalo Sabres, came together near the blue line. Foligno went to the ice in an attempt to block a shot and then tried to regain his balance. The below replay shows exactly what happened and the contact Foligno made with Myers’ knee that left him laying on the ice.
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The NHL’s department of player safety reportedly will not take action against Foligno, but there were some who felt that he purposely delivered what looks like a punch to Myers’ leg. Foligno, who also scored a goal in the second period, said Monday that there was nothing dirty about the play.
“No, honestly I did not punch his knee,” he said. “I’ve looked at it 100 times, too, and my stick’s in my hand and I think I’m trying to grab whatever I can before going down. No, there was no punching motion. I’m sure a lot of Winnipeg fans are saying that, but no I’m not trying to hurt someone out there, especially a good friend like Myers. …
“There’s replays out there and that’s what’s going to happen. Obviously, he’s a player that’s playing well for them, too, and they’re thinking that way. But there was no intent to hurt or do to anything like that. I hope he’s OK. You never want to see a tweaked ankle, whatever it is, a knee, lower body in that sense. We’ve had that on our side, too, with (Ryan) Suter’s injury going into the boards. You just hope it’s nothing serious.”
As for the collision: Foligno said: “I’m going down for a blocked shot and I think he’s going by me and he pulls up at the last second, I stumble and I mean I guess I catch him on the way down. It was kind of a freak accident, no intent there.”
It comes as no surprise that Wild coach Bruce Boudreau defended Foligno, while Jets coach Paul Maurice voiced his displeasure with the Minnesota winger.
“He fell,” Boudreau said of Foligno. “Anybody that thinks anything different, that there was something to it, is trying to create something that’s not there. He went to block a shot and he fell. That was it.”
Maurice, meanwhile, was disappointed the NHL decided to take no action. “You know what, there are very clear guidelines as to my opinions, so I would disagree with the decision,” Maurice said.