Just more than five minutes into the third period Sunday night, Steve Oleksy changed the complexion of what was a tied game when he leveled Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux with an open-ice hit.
Oleksy’s check was clean, but that didn’t stop Flyers winger Jakub Voracek from seeking immediate retribution and forcing the Capitals defenseman to fight. Oleksy may have gotten the worse end of the bout with a cut above his left eye and blood dripping down his face, but Voracek caused more damage to his team.
In addition to the standard five minutes for fighting, Voracek received minor penalties for instigating, fighting with a visor and a 10-minute misconduct. The Capitals scored a pair of goals 26 seconds apart on the ensuing four-minute power play to take a two-goal lead.
To swing the momentum in a contest with a big hit and answer the bell for a fight that earns his team a lengthy power play is all anyone can ask of Oleksy.
“Tough kid, handled it. They protected their player,” Coach Adam Oates said. “Our power play scored two goals, what you’re supposed to do there, and it put us in a good position.”
It should have been enough to pave the way to a valuable win for the Capitals, but they coughed up the lead and fell 5-4 in overtime. The hit and fight became just a chapter in the course of the game.