The sequence started with Brayden Schenn corralling the puck in the corner with under 5 minutes to go in the second period. Teammate Nick Grossmann called for a pass, but as Schenn picked up his head for the briefest of seconds, he must have heard or seen Capitals forward Tom Wilson closing in on him like a homing missile.
Schenn turned to protect himself in the only way he knew: by turning away from Wilson.
In one split second, Wilson flipped last night's game on its head when he blew through the obvious stop sign and launched Schenn into the boards from a few feet away with only his face and neck to absorb the impact.
"He had no idea he was coming," Grossmann said. "Wilson saw the numbers [on Schenn's jersey] and didn't stop. I got mad. I went after him. You've got to make him know that it's not OK by going to fight him. You've got to step up for your guy."
Wilson, 19 and playing in his 34th NHL game, was issued a 5-minute major charging penalty on the play and was ejected with a game misconduct. A telephone hearing and suspension are likely to follow with NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan.
That the Flyers were able to capitalize and score twice on Wilson's ensuing 5-minute power play, en route to a 5-2 win over Washington, merely a footnote in an evening where the NHL's most alarming trend continued.
"That was small consolation," Wayne Simmonds said. "We needed to capitalize and stay strong after we knew what they did wrong. It was clearly a boarding penalty. I don't think he could see him coming. To see him so far from the boards, the impact was crazy."
Jarred and wobbling from the hit, Brayden Schenn tried to get to his feet three or four times but fell back down each time. After laying face-first on the ice, Schenn skated off the ice clutching his wrist with the assistance of trainer Jim McCrossin and did not return.
The Flyers would only say that Schenn suffered an "upper-body injury" and provided no further update postgame.
"We'll see," Luke Schenn said. "He's still a little bit shaken up. We'll see how he feels tomorrow."
Capitals coach Adam Oates said he thought Wilson's hit didn't warrant a penalty "at all."
"I thought it was a clean hit, I really do," Oates said. "I watched it live. I saw it on the Jumbotron. I watched it again between periods. He slowed down, saw Schenn come out of the pile with the puck, took two quick strides, Schenn saw him at the last second and he hit him in the arm."
Grossmann agreed that players need to stop turning away from dangerous hits at the last second, but said the onus is on the attacking player to slow up or stop, too.
"You can't turn into the boards and you have to know guys are coming, but you have to know if you see the numbers, you can't go in full-steam," Grossmann said. "I'm all for playing hard and tough and everything like that, but you've got to respect the players. That looked pretty bad."
Luke Schenn said the hit was simply "unnecessary."
"I saw the hit and the replay, too. Pretty unnecessary," Luke Schenn said. "The thing is, he came from a pretty far ways away and it was at top speed. Everything happens fast, but when you see a guy in a vulnerable position, you have to let up a little bit.
"That play, there wasn't much respect. I don't know if the respect is gone, but it seems like every night you watch the highlight, there is a different hit or a different problem."
The result was the Flyers' second three-goal third period lead over the Capitals in 3 days. This time, the Flyers weren't going to let it slip - for Schenn and their season.
"That was definitely the one positive that came out of it," Luke Schenn said. "The power play stepped up and that was good to see, we carried the momentum into the third period. But obviously, you'd rather not see that hit. Helpless is exactly the way I felt. There's absolutely nothing you can do but hope that he's going to be OK."
Jake Voracek extended his point streak to five games by scoring twice. He has five goals and two assists in the last five games . . . Alex Ovechkin scored his 399th career goal in the second period. Ovechkin, 28, is one away from being the sixth-fastest player to 400 goals, behind only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Brett Hull and Teemu Selanne . . . Craig Berube celebrated his 48th birthday yesterday. He shares a birthday with Dave Poulin and former Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock.
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