Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil won't be missing a beat as he will be in the lineup on Wednesday when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Neil headed to the dressing room in Game 3 and didn't return after a hit from Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik. The Penguins blueliner made contact as Neil lost his balance on his shift.
"I was going down and I was in a vulnerable position and he gave me an extra shove, which I picked up speed going into the boards," Neil explained on Tuesday. "It is what it is. It's playoff hockey. It's one of those things if he's in that situation I probably would have shoved him there, but it is what it is. The way he plays, he plays a physical game and I don't expect anything less from him."
Neil, who leads the team with 50 hits in the postseason, also offered his thoughts on whether or not it was a dirty play. "I think if it's 'regular season' he doesn't do that," he explained.
"It's playoffs - your intensity is high out there. Tying to finish checks, you see a guy down. Put it this way - I wouldn't have done that to him to out him in the situation. I'm just lucky I'm no worse for wear and I'm lucky to keep going."
Orpik, a big hitter for the Penguins in his own right, didn't hold back in his rebuttal to Neil.
"My response is it's very laughable coming from him," he told reporters on Tuesday.
"I thought it was a pretty harmless play. I didn't even know he didn't return. He's done his fair share of things to me and everybody else in here. We all know how he plays and he's a guy who plays hard and he's a competitive guy. Everybody knows how he plays. He's out there to agitate and I don't have much to say about it. He gets away with a lot - let's put it that way."