NEW YORK - Islanders defenceman Radek Martinek accused Rangers tough guy Ryan Hollweg of trying to rip the stitches out a fresh gash on the left side of his face Thursday night.
The non-threatening Martinek received 15 stitches Wednesday night after being cut by a skate blade during the Islanders' 3-2 shootout win over Ottawa.
"Give Martinek credit, playing after an injury like that," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "In this game, you have to have some respect. When a guy like Hollweg tries to scratch an open cut on someone's face, that's not professional. It's not a classy thing to do."
Hollweg denied threatening Martinek or trying to grab the stitches during the Rangers' 4-2 victory over the Islanders.
Martinek was back in the lineup Thursday and joined a first-period scrum near the benches that featured the hardest hitters on both teams - Brendan Witt and Chris Simon of the Islanders, who were scuffling with Colton Orr of the Rangers.
As players from both teams entered the fray, Martinek said Hollweg threatened him and then reached for his face.
"He said he is going to take my stitches out. I think that was stupid," said Martinek, a five-foot-11, 200-pound defenceman.
Martinek added that no damage was done, but said he had never seen a player act in such a way.
"No, no. Never, never," he said. "I think he could show a little bit of respect, but he didn't. I cannot respect him."
Hollweg contended that he was merely defending Orr, a 6-3, 222-pound forward, who has five career points and 239 penalty minutes in 114 NHL games. Simon and Witt had already double-teamed Orr before Martinek got near.
"There's three guys all over Orrsie and he goes in there," Hollweg said. "I was just clearly protecting my teammate. I might have face-washed him, but I wasn't attempting to pull his stitches out by any means.
"I was just trying to clear guys out. I am not going to let them have a fourth guy go in there."
Orr was given a four-minute penalty for roughing with 2:41 left in the first period, and Witt took a single minor. Simon and Hollweg weren't penalized.
Last season, Simon received a 25-game suspension for a two-handed stick-swinging attack to the face of Hollweg, who wasn't seriously injured.