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Capitals' Tom Wilson says he initially thought Monday's Rangers dustup was 'routine hockey scrum'

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Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson said he initially thought that Monday's actions that earned him a $5,000 fine and the ire of the New York Rangers was a "routine hockey scrum."

That led to an injury to forward Artemi Panarin and a scathing statement to the NHL that earned the Rangers a $250,000 fine. In Wednesday's Capitals-Rangers rematch, six fights broke out in the first five minutes.

The incident, which Wilson said "took on a new life after the game", began because he was trying to protect Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek in the crease.

"At a young age in hockey, you’re taught to stand up for your goalie, so that’s what I was doing," he said in a media availability on Friday. "And from there, you have guys jumping on your back and I think anybody’s first reaction would be to try to just throw them off you and wrestle them down to the ice.

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"Obviously, those scrums are chaotic and there’s lots of stuff going on, but I didn’t think too much of it at the time and nothing I say right now is going to change anyone’s opinion. ... I've got to keep moving forward."

Wilson said he didn't want to second-guess his actions because the scrum was so quick moving, but he said he didn't want to drop his gloves and fight based on the skilled line that the Rangers had on the ice.

But he did earn the fine for punching Pavel Buchnevich while he was on the ice. Panarin jumped on Wilson, who threw the smaller player to the ice and caused a season-ending lower body injury.

Wilson said he reached out to Panarin, but didn't want to provide details, other than to say he was glad that the Rangers player was feeling better.

Tom Wilson yells at the New York Rangers bench after taking a second period penalty at Madison Square Garden.
Tom Wilson yells at the New York Rangers bench after taking a second period penalty at Madison Square Garden.

"I think he’s a player that’s great for the game," Wilson said. "He’s a great personality. He’s a heckuva player and I like battling against him. I just wanted to send him a text and check in."

Wilson, who has been suspended five times in his career and has 33 points in 44 games this season, also wanted to keep private any conversations he might have had with the Department of Player Safety or the team.

But he did confirm that coach Peter Laviolette talked to him about his size and strength compared with other players on the ice.

"There’s guys of all shapes and sizes that play hockey," Wilson said. "I’m 6-4, 225, and I guess Lavy’s point is you have to be aware of it."

Wilson left Wednesday's game with an upper body injury but said he's good to go Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

He also said he saw some of the things that were being said about him on social media.

"The good thing about social media is you’re able to close it and go about your life and worrying about playing hockey," he said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Capitals' Tom Wilson describes his side of 'chaotic' scrum vs. Rangers