Was the hit from NY Islanders captain Anders Lee on Nico Hischier dirty?

Mar 24, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA;  New Jersey Devils center Chris Tierney (11) defends against
Mar 24, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New Jersey Devils center Chris Tierney (11) defends against / Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Trailing 3-0 with 3:12 remaining in the second period of Sunday's matchup with the New Jersey Devils at UBS Arena, New York Islanders captain Anders Lee was whistled for a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a dangerous-looking knee-on-knee hit on Devils' captain Nico Hischier.

Timo Meier came to the immediate defense of his captain, fighting Lee and completing the Gordie Howe hat trick after a goal and an assist earlier in the game. During the commercial break, the referees reviewed the hit Lee delivered and concluded it was deserving of a five-minute major. For defending his teammate, Meier was handed an instigator penalty and game misconduct, leading to the team's playing 4-on-4 for two minutes before the Devils had a three-minute power-play.

During the second intermission, the MSG Networks analyst and Lee's former teammate Thomas Hickey didn't defend the hit, which was deserving of a major penalty and could result in further disciplinary action from the league. However, he didn't feel it was done on purpose.

"I want to cut Anders Lee just a little bit of slack in the sense that this wasn't intentional," said Hickey during the intermission report with host Shannon Hogan. After showing the replay and conceding that it looked ugly, Hickey rolled back the original angle and showed how initially, Lee had no intent to hit, going for a stick check. It's when Lee misses the puck that he turns his body in an effort to impede Hirschier up the ice, with the end result being the knee-on-knee.

"I don't think the intent was there for Anders Lee, " Hickey concluded after the breakdown.

The good news was that Hischier was able to return for the third period which could impact whether Lee hears from the league whether it was intentional or not. Not known as a dirty player, it would a break in character for Lee, who himself suffered a major knee injury in 2021 to do that in a game.