With the way the NHL Department of Player Safety has been handling spearing this season, it wouldn’t be shocking in any way if Hurricanes center Jordan Staal is slapped with a $5,000 fine for some stick work on Penguins winger Bryan Rust.
Carolina and Pittsburgh had been battling for most of the first two periods, and the only infraction called was a Rust boarding penalty for a hit on the ‘Canes Brett Pesce. But midway through the second period, shoving matches were regularly breaking out and things for Staal and Rust came to a head with seven minutes left in the second frame.
Staal had stumbled and slid into the Penguins’ zone, collected himself off the ice and was exiting the zone when he took the opportunity to deliver a crosscheck to Rust, who turned around and returned the favor. Staal and Rust squared up, and then Staal delivered a jab with his stick that looked as if it caught Rust below the belt:
The play didn’t result in a spearing penalty for Staal somehow, as he was instead handed a minor for slashing, while Rust also picked up two minutes of his own for crosschecking. The chippy play between the two teams continued with Staal and Rust being the one moment that set things off, and the teams combined for nine additional penalties over the next 27 minutes of play.
As for potential punishment for Staal, no one has been suspended for a spear this season and that won’t start with Staal, especially given that Rust wasn’t injured on the play. However, both Brandon Prust ($5,000) and Stephen Gionta ($2,285) were handed fines for spearing earlier this season, and if the DOPS plans to take action on Staal, that’s the likely route.
Mixing things up must have lit a spark under the Penguins, though, because they were trailing 2-0 after the first frame and stormed back with four unanswered goals, the first of which came just before the incident between Staal and Rust.