Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final being contended between the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs has been an intense affair, but Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly may have just produced the highlight of the night, and perhaps one of the best highlights of the entire series, with a monstrous hit in the second period.
The Washington Capitals had just taken a 1 - 0 lead in the second period of Game 6 and it looked like they were turning up the pressure considerably on the Tampa Bay Lightning and their goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. As the Capitals looked to keep the play in the Lightning's defensive zone Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi attempted to make a play with the puck behind the Lightning net, but unfortunately for Girardi his attempt came at a terrible cost to his person.
The veteran defenseman was absolutely flattened by a gigantic hit courtesy of Smith-Pelly, and unfortunately for Girardi there was a brick wall behind him in the form of another Capitals player, Jay Beagle. The result was not only the monstrous hot from Smith-Pelly knocking Girardi to the ice, but it crushed him against Beagle and knocked both Girardi and Beagle down to the ice so violent was the impact.
It was immediately apparent that Girardi was feeling the ill effects of the hit and he lay flat on his stomach for a few short seconds before even attempting to regain his feet. Once he did try to get up though just how bad the impact had been became clear, as Girardi looked like a wounded deer trying to navigate on a slippery ice surface. The veteran defenseman was completely unable to maintain his balance, a fact that was made abundantly cleared when he tried to reach for his stick and fumbled several times in the attempt. This is definitely one of the cases where you hope the NHL's concussion spotters step in and make sure a player is checked out before he returns to the ice.
Girardi would eventually gather himself and began to very slowly make his way to the Tampa Bay Lightning bench, and again it was clear that he was very bad shape as a result of the impact. In fact while it wasn't immediately apparent during the broadcast, the broadcast crew also noted that Jay Beagle also seemed to be the worse for wear after the hit although he did return to the bench a few moments later and let Smith-Pelly know that he was doing alright.
Girardi may very well end up being hurt as a result of this play but it didn't seem like a particularly dirty hit from Smith-Pelly, although admittedly we haven't had the chance to view it from all of the angles just yet. If this does turn out to be a clean hit though, which it appears it was at this time, it will likely go down as one of the spectacular hits of the entire NHL playoffs thus far. Just the sight of two players being leveled in the fashion will guarantee it.