NHL suspends Thrashers star Kovalchuk one game for hit from behind

TORONTO – Ilya Kovalchuk’s all-star break started one game early.

The Atlanta Thrashers star winger, second in the NHL with 37 goals, was suspended one game by the league Wednesday. He was disciplined for his hit from behind on New York Rangers defenceman Michal Rozsival late in the first period of a 4-0 loss at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

Kovalchuk received a five-minute boarding penalty on the play as well as a game misconduct. Rozsival’s face smashed into the glass on the play but he came back to play the rest of the game.

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Kovalchuk, who leads the Thrashers with 63 points (37-26) in 51 games, will miss Thursday’s return date at MSG against the Rangers. He will back in the Thrashers lineup Jan. 30 against Pittsburgh. Kovalchuk is also slated to appear in Sunday’s NHL all-star game.