The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Friday evening that Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov has been suspended two games for boarding/checking from behind Dallas Stars winger Curtis McKenzie on Thursday night.
“Although McKenzie is turning while receiving this pass, at no point from the moment he becomes eligible to be checked, does Nesterov see anything other than McKenzie’s back. The onus, therefore, is entirely upon Nesterov to either avoid contact, or, at the very least, minimize it. Not only does Nesterov continue with the check, but rather than minimize contact, he instead drives into McKenzie and launches him forcefully into the boards, causing an injury,” the Department of Player Safety explained in its video decision.
Following the incident, McKenzie was helped off the ice by teammates and later taken to hospital for evaluation. The Stars placed the 24-year-old on injured reserve today, citing a lower-body injury.
The incident, which occurred at 15:56 of the second period, initially earned Nesterov a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct. Stars defenseman Jason Demers scored the eventual game-winning goal on the resulting power play.
This marks the first time Nesterov has been suspended in his NHL career.