Heading into Wednesday’s Jets-Penguins game, there were some scores to settle. Last time these two teams had met, things got awfully nasty.
Considering noted enforcer Tom Sestito was called up by Pittsburgh prior to the game, there was good reason to believe that Wednesday’s tilt would get chippy as well.
It did. And it didn’t take long.
Early in the first period, Evgeni Malkin and Blake Wheeler dropped the gloves and fought one another. Though they’re not typically known for the fisticuffs, those two needed to settle a beef from the last meeting, when Malkin delivered a controversial high hit on Wheeler that went unpenalized.
Immediately following the Malkin-Wheeler bout, Sestito announced his arrival by dropping the gloves with Jets tough guy Chris Thorburn in a staged but spirited, vicious and lengthy bout. He wasn’t done there, though.
Later in the period, Sestito delivered a dangerous hit on Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom in the corner of Winnipeg’s offensive zone. The hit sent Enstrom into the boards face-first and, ultimately, to the locker room for further evaluation.
As a result of that play, Sestito was assessed a major penalty for checking from behind and a game misconduct.
Sestito’s first night back in the NHL? A whopping 1:02 of ice time, and 20 penalty minutes to show for it. (That’s not even impressive by Sestito’s standards. He once earned 27 penalty minutes in exactly one second of TOI.)
It will be interesting to see how the league’s Department of Player Safety handles this case. Enstrom turns his back to Sestito just before the hit, but he was also trying to make a play on the puck and Sestito’s check was unquestionably reckless and dangerous.
Sestito has a bit of a reputation and a significant suspension history already, so it’s unlikely he gets any benefit of the doubt here.