TORONTO (AP) — The NHL has suspended Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri for the rest of the first round of the playoffs for cross-checking Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk in the head.
The decision was announced Monday, shortly before Game 3 of the best-of-seven series that is knotted 1-1.
Kadri hit DeBrusk in the third period of Boston’s 4-1 victory Saturday. He was offered an in-person hearing by the NHL, meaning the league had the option to suspend him for more than five games.
It is the fifth suspension of Kadri’s career. He was banned three games for boarding in the opener of last year’s series with the Bruins and has had seven previous hearings with the NHL since 2013. All four of his previous suspensions involved contact with an opponent’s head.
“He’s obviously gritty, a guy who does it right, a big part of the team,” Toronto star Auston Matthews told The Canadian Press before Game 3. “We need other people to step up. We’ve lost him before. We feel like depth on this team is something we have and we can take advantage of.”
Winger William Nylander was moved to Kadri’s place at center on Toronto’s third line between Patrick Marleau and Connor Brown; he shifted to the middle earlier this season when Kadri was out injured.
“He’s got to play hard,” coach Mike Babcock said of Nylander. “It’s real simple. The team that played the hardest won Game 1. The team that played the hardest won Game 2. He’s got to compete at a high level with and without the puck.”
Nylander, who had just seven goals in 54 games following a contract dispute that stretched into December, scored in Toronto’s 4-1 victory in Game 1.
Notes: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said DeBrusk and defenseman Torey Krug, who did not return to Saturday’s game after a big hit by Jake Muzzin, would both play Monday.