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Rangers-Capitals game turns into brawl amid Tom Wilson controversy

Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson, shown April 6, 2019, received a $5,000 fine for his antics during a game against the New York Rangers on Monday. File Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI
Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson, shown April 6, 2019, received a $5,000 fine for his antics during a game against the New York Rangers on Monday. File Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- Wednesday's game between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden quickly descended into chaos, with the teams engaging in six separate fights in the first period.

The teams combined for 72 penalty minutes in the first five minutes of the game, their first meeting since controversial Capitals forward Tom Wilson injured Rangers star Artemi Panarin earlier this week.

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The matchup started with a line brawl one second after the opening faceoff. Both clubs put out forwards from their bottom six to begin the contest. For Washington, it was Nic Dowd, Carl Hagelin and Garnet Hathaway fighting the Rangers' Kevin Rooney, Colin Blackwell and Phillip Di Giuseppe, respectively.

Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith then went after Wilson on the winger's first shift, just 50 seconds into the game. Smith was handed an instigator minor penalty and a 10-minute misconduct following the scuffle.

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The Capitals announced during the second period that Wilson wouldn't return to the game because of an upper-body injury.

There were two more fights at 4:14 of the opening period, with the Capitals' Lars Eller battling Ryan Strome and Michael Raffl fighting the Rangers' Anthony Bitetto.

The first period concluded with the teams combining for 100 penalty minutes.

The brawls happened in the aftermath of Wilson's antics Monday against the Rangers. The winger, who has been suspended five times by the NHL, was fined $5,000 for punching New York forward Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while he was defenseless on the ice.

Moments later, Wilson tossed Panarin to the ice after the Rangers winger jumped on Wilson's back amid the scrum. The Rangers said Panarin sustained a lower-body injury on the play and would miss the team's final three games of the season.

After the NHL Department of Player Safety decided against suspending Wilson, the Rangers released a statement Tuesday blasting the league and calling for the firing of department head George Parros.

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The Capitals went on to beat the Rangers 4-2 Wednesday.

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