Caps’ Wilson fined for knee hit to Pens’ Sheary

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary (43) goes up against Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) and defenseman Karl Alzner (27) for the loose puck during the first period of Game 1 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday, April 28, 2016 in Washington. (AP)

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — The NHL fined Capitals forward Tom Wilson $2,404 on Friday for his knee-on-knee hit on Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary, sparing him a suspension that could have altered the second-round playoff series against the Penguins.

Wilson sent Sheary to the ice with his left knee 4 minutes into the third period of the Capitals’ 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 on Thursday night. Sheary hobbled to the nearby bench in pain and missed a few shifts, and Wilson was not penalized.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz watched the replay Friday and said Sheary did a “shimmy,” describing the collision as “shin-on-shin.”

When asked if it was clean, Trotz said: “I thought it was OK, but it wasn’t really, I would say, necessary, probably on both.”

The fine is the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement.

Neither Sheary nor Wilson took part in his team’s optional practice Friday. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan didn’t have much of a reaction to Wilson being fined and not suspended.

“The league is going to do what they do, we’re going to do what we do,” Sullivan said. “We’re going to play and the refs are going to call the game the way they see it and we’re just going to focus on hockey.”

Focusing on hockey is what the Capitals want from Wilson, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound battering ram who’s known more for physicality than finesse. The 22-year-old has had some out-of-control moments but has never been suspended, and on the edge is just where Washington wants him.

“Tom has been a young player who’s evolved to become a very effective player for us, not only being a physical force but being a good penalty killer, a good 5-on-5 guy,” Trotz said. “His first mentality as a young guy is to run you right through the boards, and I think we refined his game to we don’t want to hit on the numbers, we don’t want to hit at the head, but clean, physical hits are OK because that’s part of his game.”

Trotz said officials complimented Wilson during the Capitals’ first-round series against the Flyers for adjusting his bruising style and not crossing the line.

“Our game does change its standards to make it a safer game for everybody,” Trotz said. “He’s adapting, and I thought he’s done a real good job.”