Moments before Dustin Penner sent the Kings to the Stanley Cup finals with his overtime goal in Game 5 against the Coyotes, Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown leveled Phoenix's Michal Rozsival with a controversial hit.
The Coyotes were called for offside as Rozsival tried taking the puck into the offensive zone. But just after the whistle was blown, Brown laid out the Phoenix defensemen with a body check. No penalty was called as the two were just about to collide as the whistle was blown, but Rozsival laid on the ice for several minutes before getting helped to the locker room.
Coyotes players believed that the hit was not only late, but also that Brown intentionally initiated the knee-to-knee contact. Their frustration with the officiating and with Brown boiled over into the traditional post-series handshake. Phoenix captain Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal had heated exchanges with Brown when they passed him in the line. Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo's "Puck Daddy" hockey blog called it the "most contentious, hostile handshake in recent memory."
“I bit my tongue this whole series,” Doan told reporters after the game. “This whole series.”
“How do you miss that?” Doan went on to ask. “I mean Rozy’s knee’s blown out. How do you miss that? How do you miss that when it’s after the whistle and it’s a knee? How can you possibly miss that?”
Coyotes netminder Mike Smith also vented about the controversial hit, calling for a huge suspension for Brown.
"When Brown gets away with something like that after the whistle — knee on knee, that's a dangerous play," Coyotes netminder Smith said, via Jared Cohen of pros2preps.com. "If Raffi Torres gets 25 games for his hit during the play, this guy should be done forever."
Brown believed he caught Rozsival with his shoulder or his "whole left side made contact with his right side from toe to shoulder."
Perhaps the disagreement on the hit between NBC Sports Network analysts Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury was even more heated during the postgame show. Milbury believed the hit came after the whistle and said Brown should have avoided the collision. Roenick adamantly opposed and said there was no way the hit could have been avoided at that speed.