Matt Niskanen was ejected from Game 3 of the Penguins-Capitals playoff series Monday after referees determined contact to star forward Sidney Crosby’s head crossed the line.
In the first period, Crosby charged towards the net after receiving a pass. As he received the puck, the Penguins star lost his balance (thanks to Alex Ovechkin) and Niskanen awkwardly cross-checked him in the head.
Sidney Crosby went to the locker room, Matt Niskanen got a five-minute major and game misconduct. pic.twitter.com/YgoTbUEMWt
— SI NHL (@SI_NHL) May 1, 2017
Now, it’s easy to say Niskanen was head-hunting the Pens’ (and arguably the league’s) best player, and at first the hit does look malicious. But on further examination, the contact appears incidental. Niskanen was just reacting—albeit, poorly.
Crosby was sent to the Pens locker room after the hit. Considering his extensive history of concussions (his worst one was also suffered against the Capitals), let’s hope the injury isn’t as serious as it appears.
As for Niskanen, he’ll likely face a suspension for the hit—even if he didn’t intentionally try to injure Crosby. Unfortunately for him, you can’t injure the games best player in a controversial manner in a playoff game and expect to face no repercussions. It’s an unfortunate incident for everyone involved.