PITTSBURGH — Brooks Orpik on Wednesday denied Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher's claim the Pittsburgh defenseman tried to poke or gouge the eyes of Lightning C Steven Stamkos during Game 6 and called the statement "disappointing and childish."
"You try to play their skill guys hard as you can, try to make it miserable for them. But it's kind of a childish accusation, kind of a little wresting match on the ground with a couple headlocks," Orpik said.
Boucher has said the incident took place 5:26 into the third period during a multiplayer confrontation in front of the Penguins' net. No penalty was called related to Boucher's accusation, and though Lightning GM Steve Yzerman apparently spoke to the league about it, no discipline was applied.
"I don't know where the accusation came from," Orpik said. "That's (Boucher) probably just pulling attention away from (Ryan) Malone's hit (in Game 6 on Pascal Dupuis) or something else, or just trying to start something going into Game 7 (Wednesday)."
Stamkos seems to respect Orpik. "He's obviously a good defenseman in this league, and he plays a physical style, so come playoff time, why would you expect anything different?" Stamkos said. "He's a competitor, and he's going to do everything he can to get the advantage on you, so you've got to be disciplined and be willing to take some shots and sacrifice."
Veteran wing Simon Gagne said scrums come with the territory of being a star. "It's not going to be the last time somebody is going to try to go after him," Gagne said of Stamkos. "Especially after the whistle, when referees are there or a couple guys fall over each other, you might get a couple punches under that. You need to get used to that. It's part of the playoffs. You hope the referees see it, but if not, you've got to try to respond in another way, score goals and hurt them that way."
HIT SHOW: The Lightning was more physical in the series than it was in the regular season. It averaged 32.1 hits in the first six games. It was 27th in the 30-team league during the regular season with an average 20.1. "I wouldn't say we were pacing in the regular season," said D Pavel Kubina, whose 22 hits entering Wednesday were a team best. "In the playoffs, everybody is more physical. Everything is on the line; every shot is important. That's why I think we are more physical."
nice touch: Boucher was very appreciative of the Penguins giving the Lightning the game puck after its 1-0 victory. Boucher planned to give it to assistant coach Wayne Fleming, who has a malignant brain tumor and has been an inspiration to the team.
"The Pittsburgh Penguins were extremely classy," Boucher said. "Right after the game, they came and gave us the game puck, and I thought that was incredible on their part. They were classy the entire series, whether it was their coach, their players or fans. I'm not surprised, but I'm impressed."
ODDS AND ENDS: C Vinny Lecavalier had a five-game point streak ended (two goals, four assists). … Scratches were defensemen Matt Smaby and Randy Jones; forwards Dana Tyrell (foot), Blair Jones and Mattias Ritola, and G Dustin Tokarski.