New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider removed Matthew Tkachuk's mouthguard and tossed it to the crowd.

Getty New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider removed Matthew Tkachuk’s mouthguard and tossed it to the crowd.

For the third time in as many games, fans watching the New York Rangers and the Florida Panthers battle on the ice enjoyed a few moments of free hockey as Game 4 went to overtime.

On top of that, one lucky fan attending the game at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise on May 28 went home with an unexpected gift. That was thanks to Rangers forward Chris Kreider and Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk‘s mouthguard.

ESPN showed a shot of Chris Kreider ripping Matthew Tkachuk’s mouthguard out of his mouth 😭

Right at the start of the third period, less than a minute into it, and with the Panthers leading 2-1, the officials on the ice separated Kreider and Tkachuk before things escalated.

They got so close to each other that Kreider (even wearing a massively padding hockey glove preventing precise actions) found a way to snatch Tkachuk’s mouthguard from the latter’s mouth.

Kreider threw Tkachuk’s mouthguard into the crowd after a scrum 😂

Moreover, Kreider threw it over the glass. The crowd, full of Panthers fans watching their team playing home before the series return to New York on Thursday for Game 5, must have enjoyed getting such a gift for free.

Speaking about the incident after the game, Kreider either didn’t want to comment on it or had legitimately forgotten about it perhaps because it happened in a heated moment.

“I don’t remember that,” Kreider said after the Game 4 loss on May 28, via The Athletic’s Peter Baugh.

The Panthers defeated the Rangers in overtime, winning Game 4 3-2. Consequently, Florida brought the series to a 2-2 tie turning them into a best-of-three matchup.

Chris Kreider Avoids Serious Punishment

Most fans watching and discussing the game on the internet had fun and dropped jokes about the mouthguard drama. Kreider, however, could have seriously hurt the Rangers’ comeback.

According to Rule 75.4 (ii) in the NHL rulebook, a “misconduct penalty” should be handed to “Any player who deliberately throws any equipment out of the playing area.”

Such a penalty is left “At the discretion of the Referee,” who can “impose” an unsportsmanlike penalty (two minutes in the penalty box) depending on his perception of the action.

Kreider finished Game 4 without any penalty through 19:23 minutes of playing time. He was credited with 2 hits and 2 giveaways, as well as 2 blocked shots on defensive duties.

It wasn’t Kreider’s best game, however, as he failed to score a point for the fourth game in a row while losing his lone faceoff against the Panthers on Tuesday.

Panthers Head Coach Not Sure If He Wanted Penalty Shot

Kreider’s action didn’t lead to a penalty at the start of the third period, helping New York to avoid spending two minutes in the penalty kill. However, the game-deciding action came right off an overtime penalty.

Blake Wheeler‘s hooking of Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov was called for a minor. As a result, the veteran went to the penalty box for two minutes. Or better said, 13 seconds.

Aleksander Barkov gets in behind the Rangers D, forcing Blake Wheeler to take a penalty

#TimeToHunt | #NYR

Wheeler hooked Barkov from behind trying to prevent an easy shot on a Panthers breakaway after a Mika Zibanejad turnover. Sam Reinhart converted 13 seconds into the ensuing man advantage to win the game for Florida and even the series at 2–2.

The hooking penalty, however, could have been called by the officials for a penalty shot. The Panthers could have enjoyed a one-on-one chance to score on Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin.

“I don’t know, if you asked me and I got to pick one, which one I would pick.”

Paul Maurice was asked if he was rooting for a penalty shot on Blake Wheeler’s penalty in overtime:

Asked about that refereeing decision after the game, Panthers coach Paul Maurice couldn’t give a clear answer. Certainly, Maurice offered some facts to back his conundrum.

“I’m not sure I want to answer that question,” Maurice told reporters after the OT win in Game 4. “Our powerplay point percentage is both 33.3, which is exactly about seeing a bunch of breakaways not go in it. Maybe the truth is, I don’t know if you asked me; I got to pick one.”

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