Lightning's Cooper says Leafs' Rielly was "reckless" in collision with Point

Apr 23 2023, 11:15 pm

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper isn’t making his opinion shy when it comes to a particular play in his team’s playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

During Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win for the Leafs over the Lightning, the most significant non-goal moment came five minutes into the third period following a collision between Toronto’s Morgan Rielly and Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point.

Seven penalties were doled out on the ensuing scrum, including a pair of fighting majors for each team.

Cooper had plenty to say about the incident when prompted, which was originally awarded as a five-minute major to Rielly before it was ultimately rescinded.

“Well, it looked awful. Morgan, I know him personally. He’s a super, super human being. He’s got a great family. He’s not a dirty player,” Cooper told the media today. “Was the incident reckless? For sure. And it looked awful. Anytime, regardless of if it’s Brayden Point or whoever, that’s a tough, tough visual. He comes off. Naturally, because he is such a tough kid, when you see that, you’re thinking the worst.”

Toronto ended up with a 2-1 series lead with the victory on the night.

Following Toronto’s win, Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe felt that Tampa Bay’s players were “manipulating the referees,” by instigating a series of fights after the whistle.

“Manipulated the referees? I’m not sure what that means,” Cooper added, saying that Stamkos and Kucherov would rather be on the ice than in the penalty box. “But I would say this: When [the play between Point and Rielly] happened, I think everybody watching at home and everybody in the building, including us, thought we were going on the power play.”

Point returned to the game moments later after briefly stepping out to the locker room.

“It looked like he was in a car accident, the way he went into that wall. Really scary situation,” Cooper said. “Hopefully, he’s going to be OK to play [in Game 4].”

Game 4 is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT at Amalie Arena on Monday.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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