There is fighter’s code in the NHL and Sabres agitator Steve Ott broke it Sunday night against the Capitals.
With 7:12 remaining and the Capitals leading by a goal, Ott shoved his stick under the armpit of Capitals rookie defenseman Steve Oleksy and uttered the two words every hockey player understands. “Let’s go.”
Oleksy immediately dropped his gloves and threw a couple punches. Ott kept his gloves on, skated away and drew a two-minute roughing minor on Oleksy.
“It’s a tough spot when you’re tangled up so tight and somebody asks you to go,” Oleksy said. “If he does drop his gloves and he comes through with one, at this level the guys are too strong and throw too hard. It only takes one.”
The Caps went on to kill the penalty and got an insurance goal by Mathieu Perreault to put the game away with a crucial 5-3 win.
Afterwards, the Capitals were seething about the play of Ott, who knocked defenseman Tom Poti out of the game with a cross-check to his back in the second period; roughed up Nicklas Backstrom by grabbing the back of his helmet on a faceoff; and got unto a scrum with Alex Ovechkin, taking him off with him with a roughing minor.
“It ticks you off,” said Caps forward Joey Crabb. “All of us feel the same way. The more you play against him the more you realize he’s going to pull those kinds of things.”
Asked if it is an unwritten rule that a player doers not skate away from another player after saying “Let’s go,” Crabb said, “One hundred percent.
It happens all the time with him. Not with most players. There are a few players in the league that do that and he’s one of them. Hey, it got his team a power play, so it worked.”
Capitals coach Adam Oates said he thought Ott should have been given a roughing minor on the altercation with Oleksy.
“Steve Ott’s been doing that for years,” Oates said. “If anything, give them two each. He grabs the back of Backy’s helmet off a faceoff, that should be 10 minutes [misconduct] and ‘Get out of here.’ You let those guys do that and you wonder why we yell.
“We told Stevie that’s part of his M.O. We warned him, but it’s so hard when someone confronts you. Part of being a fighter is you gotta be ready.”