By STEPHEN WHYNO, AP Hockey Writer
Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin has been suspended four games for cross-checking Nashville’s Mark Borowiecki in the face.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced the suspension Monday after holding a hearing with Malkin about the game. In a video explaining the suspension, the league called Malkin’s cross-check “retaliatory and aggressive.” .
Malkin initially only received a four-minute double-minor penalty after hitting Borowiecki in the mouth with his stick late in the second period on Sunday.
“It’s an emotional game,” coach Mike Sullivan told reporters after the game. “It’s physical, and sometimes that kind of thing happens. It was a physical game, especially in front of the net in the areas where that happened.
“Obviously we don’t want our best players in the penalty box, but these guys are competitive guys and they push back. We would prefer them to be on ice. They give us a better chance when they’re on the ice, that’s for sure. But one of the things we love about Geno is how competitive he is, and so when you get an emotional game like the one we had today, those things happen.
This is Malkin’s second suspension after a one-game high-batting ban in 2019. It cost him $190,000 in salary.
He is eligible to return on April 23 against Detroit.
The Penguins beat the Predators in overtime to snap a four-game skid. They have lost seven of their last 10 games and are in danger of losing third place in the Metropolitan Division and finding themselves in an Eastern Conference wild card spot.
Malkin missed the first 34 games of the season due to knee surgery. Since making his season debut on January 11, the 35-year-old Russian center has scored one point per game with 17 goals and 20 assists in 37 games.
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