(UPDATE: Corey Perry, who will have a Friday DoPS hearing, on his ejection: ‘It was unintentional’)
The Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators wasted little time in justifying the hype behind their Central Division nastiness. Officials ejected Corey Perry less than three minutes into the 2020 Winter Classic for elbowing Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis.
Perry faced a long walk to the locker room thanks to the unique Cotton Bowl venue. Ellis, meanwhile, looked like he was in a bad way leaving the game. The Predators announced that Ellis won’t return to the game because of an upper-body injury.
Predators fans already disliked Perry for hits from his Ducks days, so this won’t help matters.
The Predators received a five-minute major power-play opportunity thanks to Perry’s hit. Soon after, the Stars were also whistled for a (debatable) delay of game penalty. Interestingly, Stars coach Rick Bowness acknowledged that Perry caught Ellis with an elbow to the head during an on-the-bench interview with Pierre McGuire.
(The Stars visit Anaheim on Jan. 9. If the Department of Player Safety suspended Perry for three games or more for that hit on Ellis, then Perry would miss his return to Anaheim. Perry hasn’t been suspended since March 2013, when he sat four games for a “violent check.”)
Predators take advantage of Perry penalty
The Predators scored two power-play goals to manage an early 2-0 lead in the 2020 Winter Classic, exploiting Perry’s mistake. With 11:22 remaining in the first period, Denis Gurianov drew a penalty shot opportunity, but Pekka Rinne came out on top. The Predators ended the first period with that same 2-0 lead.
To put things mildly, the 2020 Winter Classic is off to hot start. Matt Duchene even scored the first goal of the decade:
The Predators need every standings point they can get, so we’ll see if they can make a strong start stick, or if the Stars can rally back.
Check out this now-eerie photo of Perry from an earlier practice before the Winter Classic:
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.