Though he likely didn’t mean any harm, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Austin Watson may have injured Nashville Predators defenseman Jeremy Lauzon, inadvertently or not.
In the waning seconds of the Predators 5-1 win over the Lightning Thursday at Bridgestone Arena, Watson fired a roaring slapshot from his own blue-line aimed at Nashville’s goal.
The only problem is the puck never made it out of the neutral zone as it struck Lauzon and sent him crashing to the ice in pain, prompting Yakov Trenin and a few other Predators skaters to go after Watson right in front of the Lightning bench.
Austin Watson fired a slapshot at Jeremy Lauzon at the end of the Lightning vs. Predators game. pic.twitter.com/lgXYzOrv8j
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 8, 2023
While Watson’s actions were likely no more than a manifestation of frustration given Tampa’s four-goal loss — its fifth defeat in the last seven games — Predators head coach Andrew Brunette sounded off about the incident after the game.
“I did not like that (decision) at all (by Austin Watson),” Brunette said. “That has no place in hockey. Because that…no place whatsoever in hockey.”
There was no injury update on Lauzon after the game. He was seen limping off the ice as he made his way to the locker room.
Watson was fined $2,022.57, the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for unsportsmanlike conduct Friday morning.
The errant slapshot wasn’t Watson’s only transgression of the evening. Halfway through the final period he dropped the gloves with Predators forward Cole Smith after he knocked Lightning forward Luke Glendenning to the ice along the boards.
There fight offered little action until the final punch — a haymaker thrown by Watson as he and Smith were falling to the ice.
Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_