Before the puck dropped to start the third period at Bell Centre on Wednesday night, Alex Ovechkin was talking with two referees on the ice. Both sides had their say, and then Ovechkin returned to the penalty box to finish serving his second slashing penalty of the game.

“I asked them, ‘You can’t even hit the guy any more?’ They said no,” Ovechkin said.

As the NHL cracks down on slashing and faceoff violations, players have struggled to stay out of the penalty box during the preseason. These first few exhibition games have been largely unwatchable with clubs just alternating between special teams. Evaluating NHL hopefuls has been challenging with so little even-strength time. In the Capitals’ game at New Jersey on Monday night, 20 penalties were called. On Wednesday night in Montreal, Washington had just one faceoff violation as centers seem to have made adjustments, but of the game’s 13 penalties, four of them were slashes by Washington.