Down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, the Washington Capitals are in desperate need of a victory in Game 4 on Thursday. Well, it appears that Dale Hunter‘s team will have to take on that challenge without one their best scorers.
Nicklas Backstrom has been suspended for Game 4 by the NHL for his cross check to the head of Bruins’ forward Rich Peverley at the end of Monday’s 4-3 loss, the league announced on Tuesday night.
The play was deemed “excessive and reckless” by the NHL’s department of player safety, which is famously headed up by former-player Brendan Shanahan.
Backstrom, who scored the game-winning goal in double overtime of Game 2, has been a big part of the Capitals offense during the postseason thus far. He’s scored one goal, dished out one assist and has a plus-two rating in the three games in the opening-round series.
Game 3 proved to be a chippy battle between the Bruins and Capitals, following two relatively tame games to kick off the series. The chippiness carried over into a few scraps throughout the game and even turned into some post-game mayhem, where Peverley tripped up Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Backstrom exacted some revenge by cross-checking the B’s first-line winger.
The loss of Backstrom could pose a major hole for the Capitals on Thursday, as many of the chances that Marcus Johansson and Alexander Semin have seen on the second line have been a result of Backstrom’s aggressive play. More pressure will surely be put on Ovechkin as well, as Washington is in a near must win situation heading back to Boston for Game 5.
Shanahan shows and explains the suspension in the video below.