The NHL might direct extra attention today on two plays from the Penguins' 4-3 overtime victory Sunday against the Washington Capitals at Consol Energy Center.
Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek figures to show up prominently in both -- and, from his perspective, one had a role in the other.
At 4:09 of the second period, Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin hit Michalek, sending him into the corner boards and onto his back. Replays indicated Ovechkin left his feet and made contact with Michalek's head.
There was no penalty, but Michalek had no problem after the game calling foul.
"He hit just my head, and I've been told he left his feet, too," he said. "They didn't call it on the ice, but to me it was a pretty clear head shot. I guess some players are more protected than others. It shouldn't be like that."
There has been an NHL crackdown on hits to the head for more than two years. Ovechkin did not address the hit. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma dodged a question about it.
At 8:36 of the same period, Michalek was assessed an elbowing minor penalty for a hit to the head of Capitals center Matt Hendricks .
"It was a good call, but my question is, why didn't they call a penalty on [Ovechkin]?" Michalek said. "Make it even. Call everybody the same way. That way we don't have any problems like that.
"I know that I made a bad play and maybe I was still a little bit mad about the hit before. That's how it is. It's not the first time [Ovechkin] hit me or hit somebody else like that. Some players are more protected than others. It should be an even field.
"I just told the ref that if he makes a call on me, he should have made a call on him, too. It should be even no matter who makes the hit."
Michalek, who missed 10 games because of a concussion earlier this season, said he felt two impacts on Ovechkin's hit -- from the player and against the boards. When he landed on his back, his head snapped forward, but did not strike the ice. He said he was "a bit shaken up" initially but quickly felt fine.
"I have to be honest -- I have to [be aware] when I see him coming, but he cannot leave his feet like that and just go for my head," Michalek said.
"I felt like it was a dirty play by him."
In the seconds after he drew a tripping penalty by Hendricks late in the second period, Penguins winger Tyler Kennedy found himself emerging from a scrum and fighting Washington winger Troy Brouwer .
Kennedy acquitted himself well and was still attempting to throw punches when both were lying on the ice despite giving up a lot in size.
Kennedy is listed at 5 feet 11, 183 pounds; Brouwer, 6-3, 213.
"I didn't really have a choice," Kennedy said. "A couple of guys were going toward [Penguins center Evgeni Malkin ]. You can't let guys go after [Malkin]. He's playing too good right now to let guys get him off his game."
Malkin later set up the tying goal and scored the winner in overtime.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made his 21st consecutive appearance, just two of those in relief. It was his 15th start in the past 16 games, and he made 17 saves to improve to 25-12-2.
There's a reasonable chance he will start again Tuesday when the Penguins play at St. Louis, which under coach Ken Hitchcock has improved into one of the top teams in the NHL.
That's because after that game the Penguins -- save for their All-Star, Malkin -- are off until a late-afternoon practice next Monday.
"The rest coming up certainly plays into that equation of their schedule this month," Bylsma said of Fleury and backup Brent Johnson .
The Penguins opted against holding a moment of silence for Joe Paterno , Penn State's former football coach who died Sunday. ... Penguins defensemen Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik each had an assist and each have four assists over the past six games. ... The Penguins returned forward Jason Williams to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. He was recalled Friday as insurance but did not play that night against Montreal or Sunday.
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus .