Goalie Fight Fallout: Isles Dipietro face broken by Pens punch
Johnson traded shutout for knockout, and gained a measure of fame in the process
Injury has been added to insult with news New York Islanders’ goaltender Rick Dipietro suffered a lot more than a bruised ego and wounded pride when Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson dropped him with one punch Wednesday.
Dipietro will be out four to six weeks with facial fractures and knee swelling suffered after falling to the ice when Johnson landed a huge left hand just below his right eye.
“It’s frustrating, it’s unfortunate and every other emotion you can throw in there,” DiPietro told The Associated Press Friday. “I’m sick of losing, our team’s sick of losing. You never go into a fight expecting you’re going to get smashed in the face that hard, or with these kind of consequences, but it happens and you move on.”
Post-game X-rays after the fight came back negative, but a CT scan reportedly revealed the damage.
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It’s easy to understand Dipietro’s frustration. In the fifth season of a 15-year, $67.5-million contract, he only played 13 games combined over the last two seasons, and just 21 this season, as he struggled to overcome serious hip surgery and continues to have trouble with strained groins and a surgically repaired left knee.
The latest setback comes after Johnson one-punched Dipietro with 16.5 seconds left in the Penguins 3-0 victory over the Islanders, and was quickly being celebrated all over the world wide web for a different kind of glove hand. Johnson’s combination of a shutout, an assist and a fight was quickly lauded as the goaltender’s equivalent of the Gordie Howe Hat trick (a goal, an assist and a fight).
There was only one problem: Johnson lost the shutout when he accepted Dipietro’s invitation to dance.
Despite a lot of reports that Johnson became the first goaltender to record a shutout and a fight since Detroit’s Chris Osgood dropped his blocker and glove with Patrick Roy way back on April 1, 1998, the reality is Johnson lost his goose egg when he was kicked out and replaced by Marc-Andre Fleury for those final few seconds.
At that point it became a team shutout and won’t be credited officially to either goalie (ironically if they left the net empty and kept the puck out, Johnson would have gotten the shutout on his record).
Not that Johnson seemed particularly upset about it.
“The guys didn’t know I had that little mean streak in me,” Johnson, who has 14 career shutouts, but no fights in the NHL, told The Associated Press. “It was something I’ve kind of wanted to do for a while. Maybe it’s just a little bit of frustration about some things.”
Playing for just the second time in almost a month despite now having an impressive .929 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against average might be one of them might be one of them, but if there was any bitterness it wasn’t shared by the guy getting most of the starts. Penguins No.1 Marc-Andre Fleury was pumped at the punch.
“Johnny was sick,” Fleury told The Associated Press after mopping up in the win. “He’s a righty, first of all, and he goes in as a lefty. That was awesome. He was so calm, so relaxed. It was just boom! His expression never changed. It was just boom, and that was it.”
Adding to the irony is Johnson was coming to the defense of widely loathed Penguins agitator Matt Cooke, who was shoved high by Dipietro while skating near his crease at the other end. Considering Atlanta forward Evander Kane received kudos and congratulatory messages from all around the NHL after one-punching Cooke last season, you’ve got to wonder if Johnson might get some hate mail for having Cooke’s back.
At the very least, Johnson, who stopped 20 shots, gets credit for letting up after his hard left dropped Dipietro to the ice, holding off with a right hand that was poised to strike again when he saw Dipietro was hurt.
“I didn’t intend to hurt anyone or anything,” he said. “It was just a lucky punch.”
It left DiPietro’s face visibly swollen with a welt over his right cheek. Initial Internet rumblings Dipietro had suffered a broken orbital bone were dismissed after the X-rays came back negative after the game.
“It was tough to tell at the time,” DiPietro told The Associated Press after the injury was announced on Friday. “Your adrenaline is rushing so hard that fortunately in a fight like that you don’t feel anything until afterward. It’s unfortunate and frustrating and every other emotion you can throw in there. … I didn’t realize at the time that his arms were so long or that he could throw such a hard left punch, but I found both of those out pretty quickly. It’s a tough game and it’s a physical sport. Unfortunately my face paid the price.
“Right now it’s soft foods and hang out. Those are my favourite things: to work out and eat and play hockey. I can’t do any of them so it’s not really the best of injuries. You don’t really ever want a broken face to be the reason that you get extra rest,” DiPietro said. “You keep telling yourself that everything happens for a reason. I am not sure what that reason is yet, but hopefully at some point it will come to the surface. It will make winning the Stanley Cup that much sweeter.”
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