Minnesota Wild forward Marcus Foligno had an eventful Sunday night.
Foligno, a 26-year-old left wing who joined the Wild last offseason, notched his first career playoff goal, which served as the capper in a 6-2 Wild win at the Xcel Energy Center. The win looks like a potential momentum shifter in the Wild's first-round match-up with the Winnipeg Jets, who lead the series 2-1.
Foligno was also recorded singing along to the Pitbull song "Don't Stop the Party." That's fun!
Jets fans are pissed off at Foligno today. And it's not for scoring or singing.
Late in the second period, just a couple minutes before Foligno's goal, the forward skated out at Winnipeg defenseman Tyler Myers, who held the puck near the blue line. As Foligno closed in, Myers flicked the puck into the corner, and the two players collided.
It's what happened in that instant -- and how one interprets it -- that's got hockey fans talking today.
Foligno, sliding on his knees as if to block a shot, moves to stand up, and his skate gets tangled up with Myers'. Both guys start falling. As they go down, Foligno makes contact with the back of Myers' knee, jamming his skate into the boards.
Ask Winnipeg fans, and it looks like a deliberate punch, Foligno ramming the butt end of his stick into Myers' leg. The hit left Myers sprawled on the ice; he was helped back to his feet, left the game, and didn't return.
One blogger who covers the Jets says Foligno's play was dangerous enough to deserve scrutiny from the NHL:
While it might not look like Marcus Foligno meant to hurt Tyler Myers when he punched him in the back of the leg, he did hurt him and his injury will hurt the Jets as they are already without Tobias Enstrom. A play may look innocent, but going after an opponents knees is never okay no matter how it looks. The play was hard to see, but Myers was vulnerable and Foligno should have been punished based on the illegality of the play and nothing more.
The hit is also getting a lot of play on Twitter, where Jets fans viewing an isolated camera angle are convinced Foligno's intent was clear.
When you break a fall you don’t punch outwards, you put your hand down to break the fall. Dirty as they come. pic.twitter.com/umnCTRqAQh— Darren Ford (@darrenford77) April 16, 2018
Foligno, for his part, has denied striking Myers' knee on purpose, telling Winnipeg Free Press beat writer Jason Bell that he'd "never intentionally hurt a player," and pointing out that he and Myers were teammates with the Buffalo Sabres.
Indeed, here's a clip circa 2013 of Foligno scoring a goal as a Sabre... off a shot taken by Myers!
Is it just us, or does Foligno seem more interested in celebrating that one with Thomas Vanek, otherwise uninvolved, than with Myers, who set it up?
Maybe everything looks suspicious when two teams are locked in a tense playoff series.
Minnesota and Winnipeg renew theirs Tuesday night. Myers' status for that game has yet to be determined.
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