The NHL Department of Player Safety will not bring supplemental discipline against Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin, who was ejected from his team’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night for an illegal check to the head of forward T.J. Oshie.
At 3:27 of the third period, Malkin passed the puck while entering the Capitals’ zone. Oshie closed in on him to deliver a check and Malkin lifted his shoulder into Oshie’s head upon impact. The Capitals forward left the game and went through the NHL’s concussion protocol, having previously visited the trainers’ room during the game following a high stick from the Penguins’ Olli Maatta.
Malkin was given a match penalty for an illegal check to the head. Oshie would return to the game, and he scored the winning goal for the Capitals with 1:14 left in regulation.
“It’s not my concern anymore. We got the ‘W,'” said Oshie after the game, regarding discipline for Malkin. “I don’t really care what happens to him.”
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he wasn’t concerned that Malkin might be punished further by the league, and that turned out to be the case.
The NHL view of the hit, a source told ESPN, is that Malkin was bracing for impact from the approaching Oshie, a smaller player than the Penguins center. He doesn’t get an elbow or stick up, just a shoulder, in order to steady himself for a collision under a second after he released the puck.
The league felt the match penalty early in the third period was sufficient punishment on the play, although one wonders if they ultimately feel the referees got it right. The Player Safety impression of the hit seems at odds with the criteria for a Rule 48 match penalty, in which a player is ejected if he “attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent with an illegal check to the head.”