The score was 2-0 in favor of the New York Rangers in the last minute of the first period. Atlanta was desperately seeking a way to gain some momentum. Along came Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk spied Michal Rozsival standing innocently behind his own goal line to play a puck. “Here is the perfect outlet for all my pent-up frustration,” he thought. And with Rozsival’s back turned to him, Kovalchuk leaped from his skates, flying four feet into the air and slamming into Rozsival.
Rozsival lay on the ice, apparently mortally wounded. Rangers policeman Colton Orr spied Kovalchuk and knew he had to get some revenge. He skated towards Kovalchuk and pounced like a skating lioness hunting her prey. Kovalchuk begged for mercy, to no avail. Finally, he was rescued from certain death by a linesman.
Meanwhile, Rozsival made a miraculous recovery from his injuries. Kovalchuk was given a one-game suspension by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell, but prevailing opinion is that a lifetime ban would have been more appropriate.
“That,” said Rangers coach Tom Renney, “was the dirtiest play in the history of the National Hockey League.”