The Wild's series against Anaheim had lacked the traditional hostility that accompanies the playoffs through three games. That changed Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center thanks in part to a questionable punch thrown by Ducks winger Brad May.
The Wild was en route to avoiding a sweep by recording a 4-1 victory over the Ducks in Game 4 of the first-round series when a fracas broke out late in the third period. As the Wild's Adam Hall and Anaheim's Kent Huskins and Shawn Thornton engaged in the main event, May and Wild defenseman Kim Johnsson paired up.
May threw a punch that left Johnsson, a nonfighter, face down on the ice and being tended to by the training staff. "That is a joke," Wild tough guy Derek Boogaard said. "Just suckering a guy that I don't think has had a fight in his NHL career shows that a guy like Brad May has no respect so he deserves no respect from anybody, and that's how he's going to get treated."
Boogaard shared that message -- and much stronger words -- with the Ducks bench in the moments after Johnsson was dropped. At one point, Boogaard could be seen jawing at the Anaheim players as coach Randy Carlyle made a chirping motion with his hands.
Boogaard was then put on the ice by coach Jacques Lemaire with 1 minute, 48 seconds left in the third and appeared to challenge a few Anaheim players. "Johnsson's not a fighter," Lemaire said. "If [May is] looking for someone, we've got one. His number is 24, and he's the tallest."
The Wild likely won't receive a chance to get revenge on May on Thursday night in Anaheim. May was called for a match penalty for intent to injure, meaning the NHL will review the play and could hand down a suspension.
May said he doesn't believe a match penalty was warranted. He declined to comment on several occasions when asked specifically about his actions. "I don't know what's going on behind me," he said. "That's the spirit of those things. ... It's competitive out there. It's two good teams going at it, trying to win, trying to advance to the next round."
Wild winger Brian Rolston was among those upset by May. "It was a cheap hit on Johnsson there," Rolston said.
Johnsson was receiving treatment and was not available for comment. The team said he had a head injury and his status is unclear for Game 5.
May's career has been full of questionable incidents. Playing for Vancouver in 2004, he was the player who put the "bounty" on the head of Colorado's Steve Moore that resulted in then- Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi ending Moore's career in the next game.
Boogaard was disgusted by May's latest antics. "You keep hearing things that I'm bad for the game, but when you go in and look at stuff like that, that's terrible," Boogaard said. "Especially during the playoffs."