Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning's Jeff Halpern calls Ovechkin hit dirty

The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos, hustling to keep up with the play along the glass, had two goals and an assist in the game.


The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos, hustling to keep up with the play along the glass, had two goals and an assist in the game.

TAMPA — Lightning C Jeff Halpern did not hold back when talking about Alex Ovechkin's hit on Tampa Bay's Steve Downie that began the third-period fireworks in Tuesday's game.

As Halpern saw it, Ovechkin led with his knee, and Halpern called that dirty.

"Downs makes a move. (Ovechkin) sticks his knee out, leaves his knee out there," Halpern said. "It's not the cheapest hit in the world, but it's still a dirty hit."

Downie, who popped Ovechkin with a right hand in a ruckus that was called roughing, declined to express what he thought other than to say, "I had a good game and we won."

Safe to say, though, he would not have gone after Ovechkin if he believed the hit was clean.

Either way, Downie got big ups from teammates for challenging the league's premier superstar in a game in which the Lightning, which had lost 12 straight to Washington, wanted to make a statement.

"Downs did a good job," D Kurtis Foster said.

Said Halpern: "He did the right thing. … (Ovechkin) goes hard, but you're still responsible for where your knees are."

Coach Rick Tocchet said he did not know if Ovechkin stuck out his knee. But he called the hit "a pretty hard charge." And he complimented Ovechkin because "he was willing to answer the bell."

He was willing later in the period, too, when he and Downie squared off. But Washington's Matt Bradley left the bench to fight Downie.

"I'll bet they would do the exact same thing if someone was squaring off with Stamkos," Bradley said. "You don't let guys like that go after your best players, and he's our best player. No matter who it is, we're not going to let someone like Downie to go after him."

As for Ovechkin, he sounded ready to put it behind him.

"The fight with Downie was nothing," he said. "It was a normal game. It's hockey. I thought (Downie) slashed my stick. I had the puck and went to shoot and there's no stick and there's no call."

POWERLESS PLAY: Before scoring four goals Tuesday, the Lightning was 10-for-78 (12.8 percent) on the power play in its previous 20 games and 3-for-28 (10.7 percent) in its previous eight.

GLITZ & STICKS: The eighth charity event is 6-9 p.m. Jan. 24 at Tampa's Hyatt Regency hotel, 211 N Tampa St. Individual tickets are $150 and include chips for casino-style games. Sponsorships are $1,500, $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000. All proceeds benefit Tampa General Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Lightning Foundation's annual grant program. Call (813) 301-6712.

ODDS AND ENDS: C Blair Jones, with zero points in 12 games since his mid December callup, cleared waivers and was sent to AHL Norfolk. … LW Todd Fedoruk (right knee) is skating well but said he is not ready to play. "I can push my own weight around," he said. "It's pushing other people around that's the thing." … D Matt Smaby (shoulder) and D David Hale were scratched.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at

Tampa Bay Lightning's Jeff Halpern calls Ovechkin hit dirty 01/12/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 8:52am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  2. Luke Del Rio regains UF starting job, for now


    GAINESVILLE — Luke Del Rio is once again the starting quarterback for No. 21 Florida.

    Luke Del Rio provided a needed spark when he replaced starter Feleipe Franks and rallied Florida past Kentucky.
  3. Four questions the Lightning still has to answer

    Lightning Strikes

    FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-name prospects heading out.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) looks on from the bench during a shift change at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17). In background on right is Nikita Kucherov (86). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  4. Nine Florida football players, 62 felony complaints in fraud scandal


    GAINESVILLE — The fraud scandal that has engulfed the University of Florida's nationally ranked football team for weeks exploded Monday with the first detailed accounts of criminal accusations that threaten to derail the Gators' season.

    Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) runs the ball during the Outback Bowl in January at Raymond James Stadium. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  5. Where Rays shortstop Matt Duffy's lost season leads

    The Heater

    BRADENTON — In a perfect world, Matt Duffy would have been in New York on Monday with his Rays teammates enjoying the final off day of the year. Instead, he was on Field 4 at Pirate City on a sweltering afternoon, trying to restart his season.

    Rays shortstop Matt Duffy plays in his first game (since rehab was aborted) with the club's instructional league on Monday at the Pirate City baseball field and spring training complex in Bradenton [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]