Line brawl erupts in opening seconds of Capitals' win over Rangers

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A line brawl erupts off opening puck drop during a game between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers on Wednesday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images - image credit)
A line brawl erupts off opening puck drop during a game between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers on Wednesday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images - image credit)

It didn't take long for the New York Rangers to retaliate to Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson's antics.

A line brawl featuring all six forwards erupted on the ice in the opening seconds of the game Wednesday after Wilson injured Rangers leading scorer Artemi Panarin in Monday's contest.

WATCH | Line brawl to start Rangers-Capitals game:

The Rangers organization took exception to the NHL opting not to suspend Wilson and instead levying a $5,000 US fine, the maximum allowable under the league's collective bargaining agreement.

The Capitals wound up beating the Rangers 4-2, with T.J. Oshie collecting a hat trick in his first game following the death of his father.

"We are trying to be there for him and take care of him and he ends up taking care of us," Nic Dowd said of Oshie who was surrounded in a giant group hug from teammates at the Capitals bench.

The opening three fights were only a sign of things to come, as three more broke out in the first period alone, including Wilson taking on Rangers defenceman Brendan Smith. Smith received an extra two-penalty for instigating the fight with Wilson, who was booed loudly every time he skated on the ice.

WATCH | Wilson fights Smith:

"I think it was good. We were just trying to stick up for our teammate," Smith said. "It was a good response for sure."

In the second period, Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich was handed a game misconduct and five-minute major for cross-checking Capitals forward Anthony Mantha.

Wilson later left the game with an upper-body injury after piling up 14 penalty minutes. It was unclear when the injury occurred.

The penalty boxes were overflowing for both teams. At one point, there were six Capitals crammed into the visiting box.

The on-ice actions may not have been the only repercussions of Wilson's post-whistle takedown of a helmetless Panarin and punch to the back of Buchnevich's head.

WATCH | Buchnevich tossed for cross-checking Mantha:

The Rangers fired president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton on Wednesday, reportedly due to dissent over whether to release a team statement Tuesday targeting NHL senior vice-president of player safety George Parros for his inaction against Wilson.

"It's obviously a crazy day. You add in the anxiety or anticipation all day from our group, and then waking up from a pregame nap with the whole set of news," Rangers forward Ryan Strome said. "It's never easy, I think, in pro sports. It's a tough business."

The Rangers' statement called Wilson's behaviour a "horrifying act of violence."

"Wilson is a repeat offender with a long history of these type of acts and we find it shocking that the NHL and their Department of Player Safety failed to take the appropriate action and suspend him indefinitely," the Rangers said.

"Wilson's dangerous and reckless actions caused an injury to Artemi Panarin that will prevent him from playing again this season. We view this as a dereliction of duty by NHL Head of Player Safety, George Parros, and believe he is unfit to continue in his current role."

Wilson was given a double-minor penalty for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct. The fine represents 0.12 per cent of Wilson's $4.1 million salary for this season.

WATCH | Oshie emotional after recording hat trick: