Montreal Canadiens forward Josh Anderson has been suspended two games by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for boarding Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
The hit came with 9:54 remaining in the third period of Saturday night’s game. Pietrangelo carried the puck up the boards, losing control of it as he moved through the neutral zone. As he turned to protect the puck and regain possession, the Vegas d-man was hit from behind by Anderson.
Pietrangelo was not injured on the play. It appeared that his visor caught the dasher, protecting his face from a potentially serious injury.
“That’s tough. It’s a dangerous play,” said Vegas forward Reilly Smith. “I don’t know what was going through his mind, but if you see a player turn his back around like that, the last thing you do is try and run him through the boards.”
Anderson was given a major for boarding, which includes a game misconduct. From Rule 41:
A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee. There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the Referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize contact. However, in determining whether such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the Referees when applying this rule.
The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a [minor or major] penalty, based on the degree of violence of the impact with the boards, to a player guilty of boarding an opponent. When a major penalty is imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, a game misconduct shall be imposed.
The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by boarding.
Vegas head coach Bruce Cassidy agreed with the officials’ ruling.
“I don’t like [the hit]. It’s unnecessary to me, but we dealt with it,” said Cassidy. “I thought our guys stuck together. And I thought it was the right call on the ice.”
This is Anderson’s first suspension. He forfeits $59,459.46 in salary as a result of the ban.
Officials for the game were referees Justin St. Pierre (#12) and Kendrick Nicholson (#30) with linesmen Jonathan Deschamps (#80) and Andrew Smith (#51).