NEW YORK – Two-time MVP Alex Ovechkin was suspended Monday for the Washington Capitals’ next two games because of a reckless hit.
The forward drove Chicago’s Brian Campbell into the boards from behind in the first period Sunday and received a major penalty and a game misconduct. With Ovechkin, who is leading the league in points with 96, kicked out of the game, the Capitals later came back from a 3-0 third-period deficit to win 4-3 in overtime.
“There’s nothing I can do right now. He just fell and this happens,” Ovechkin said after the game.
Because he also was suspended for two games earlier this season, Ovechkin is now considered a repeat offender under the collective bargaining agreement. He’ll forfeit more than US$232,000 in salary based on the number of games in the season instead of the number of days.
Ovechkin was suspended for two games Dec. 1 for a knee-to-knee hit on Carolina defenceman Tim Gleason.
Ovechkin will miss games Tuesday at Florida and Thursday at Carolina. He can return Saturday at Tampa Bay.
“We have no problem with the way Alex tried to finish his check,” Capitals general manager George McPhee said in a statement. “Unfortunately, an injury resulted. We are disappointed with the suspension but do not want to comment further.”
Campbell stayed down for several minutes before he was able to leave the ice with a trainer at his side and then headed to the locker room. He did not return to the game.
Campbell, out with what the team is calling an upper-body injury, will miss the team’s three-game road trip this week out West that starts Wednesday night in Anaheim, Calif. He is a key defenceman for the Blackhawks, who are second overall in the Western Conference two points behind San Jose.
Campbell has seven goals and 31 assists on the season.
“Brian Campbell is one of the best skaters in the National Hockey League,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said in an interview with the team’s website. “If he thought danger was coming, and he saw Alex right behind him, he would have moved. I think he was trying to spin away and the spin didn’t work, and he got caught in the ice and he fell into the boards.
“That’s me, and a lot of people are going to bash that thought. But that’s my opinion.”
The Capitals showed Sunday why they have the NHL’s best record and highest-scoring offence. They had three goals in the third period before Nicklas Backstrom scored unassisted in overtime for the win.
The Capitals said Ovechkin missed practice Monday because he had to be on the phone with Colin Campbell, the NHL’s director of hockey operations, to discuss the hit.
“If this was Sidney Crosby doing this, everybody outside of Pittsburgh would have cried foul: ‘Suspend him for the year,”‘ Boudreau said. “I don’t think it does the game any good to have Alex suspended.”