A New York Rangers fan has been arrested after sucker-punching a Tampa Bay Lightning supporter after Thursday’s game at Madison Square Garden.
James Anastasio, 29, was identified by authorities as the man seen in a viral video launching an unprovoked attack against a Lightning fan after Thursday’s playoff game, which New York lost.
Anastasio, a resident of Staten Island, is charged with assault, disorderly conduct, and harassment, according to PIX11. He is now banned from the Garden, home to both the Rangers and the NBA’s New York Knicks, for life.
Shocking video of the incident, viewed more than 2.8 million times on Twitter, shows the disgruntled Rangers fan whirling around and punching a supporter of the opposing team as spectators exit the Garden.
James Anastasio, 29, was identified by authorities as the man (left in red shirt) seen in a viral video launching an unprovoked attack against a Lightning fan after Thursday’s playoff game
The Lightning fan was knocked out cold but reportedly refused medical attention at the scene
It’s unclear from the video what words may have been exchanged between the two fans that may have precipitated the violence.
Police said that Anastasio tried to run away from the scene, but was detained by a 37-year-old eyewitness.
Cops responded and placed Anastasio under arrest. The Lightening fan reportedly refused medical attention at the scene.
Management at the Garden issued a statement on Friday saying that the ‘assailant’ would be banned from the venue for life, without naming Anastasio.
‘Last night, an abhorrent assault took place against a Tampa Bay fan at the conclusion of the game — followed by a second assault against an individual who bravely intervened,’ the statement said.
‘All guests — no matter what team they support — should feel safe and respected in The Garden,’ the venue added.
The Garden management said that the assaulted fan had been provided with medical care and would get ongoing support from its guest services team.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers fight during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden
The main event featured Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (left) and Rangers star Alexis Lafreniere – a pair of former first-overall draft picks
Thursday’s game was Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals, and the Lightning beat the Rangers 3-1.
Ondrej Palat’s tip-in snapped a tie with 1:50 remaining in regulation after a New York turnover.
Tampa Bay leads the best-of-seven series three games to two and can secure its third straight trip to the Stanley Cup final on Saturday night, if they win a home game against the Rangers.
The Lightning are 6-1 at home in the postseason while the Rangers head into their sixth elimination game with a 2-7 road mark in the playoffs.
Tensions were obviously running high on the ice at Thursday’s game, which erupted into a brawl between players after the final horn.
Lafreniere (left) got in some good shots, but probably took a few more from Stamkos (right)
Players on both teams dropped gloves after Lighting star Nikita Kucherov flung a meaningless shot off Rangers defenseman Adam Fox.
Coming off a third consecutive loss and now facing elimination in Saturday’s Game 6, Fox took exception and retaliated by slashing the Russian-born winger.
Kucherov was naturally displeased and within a moment, several melees broke out simultaneously around the ice.
The main event featured Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Rangers star Alexis Lafreniere – a pair of former first-overall draft picks.
The incident at the Garden comes as New York City crime remains high. Overall crime is up almost 40 percent in 2022 compared to the same period last year.
Every violent crime, except murder and shootings are up in the Big Apple with felony assault up 19 percent, burglary up 32 percent, and robbery up 39 percent.
Every violent crime, except murder, is also up in the Big Apple with felony assault, burglary, and robbery up significantly at 19, 32, and 39 percent, respectively.