Sharks center Joe Thornton was suspended Monday for one playoff game for a hit to the head of Vegas’ Tomas Nosek.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety said that Thornton’s hit on Nosek in Game 3 was avoidable and that the head was “clearly the main point of contact.” That led to the decision to suspend Thornton for Game 4 on Tuesday night in Las Vegas.
Thornton was called for an illegal check to the head on the play.
“I honestly thought I barely touched him,” Thornton said after the game. “He just came right back; it was just one of those plays that it is what it is. I think my son hits me like that six times a day. It’s just a weird position to put himself in, that’s all.”
The Golden Knights felt otherwise about the hit in the second period of a 6-3 victory that gave them a 2-1 series lead. “It’s gutless,” Vegas forward Ryan Reaves said. “It’s behind the play. It’s to the head. It’s everything you’re trying to get rid of in hockey.”
Maple Leafs 3, Bruins 2: Auston Matthews scored his first goal of the playoffs and set up another as host Toronto beat Boston to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal. Meanwhile, Toronto forward Nazem Kadri has been suspended for the rest of the first round of the playoffs for cross-checking Boston winger Jake DeBrusk in the head.
Hurricanes 5, Capitals 0: Rookie forward Warren Foegele had two goals and an assist, Petr Mrazek earned his fourth career postseason shutout and host Carolina won its first home playoff game in a decade to cut its deficit to 2-1 in the series. The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin injured Carolina rookie Andrei Svechnikov with a punch to the face.
Predators 3, Stars 2: Mikael Granlund scored on a wrist shot from just inside the blue line with 8:19 left and visiting Nashville, after blowing a two-goal lead, beat Dallas to take a 2-1 lead in the West.
Avalanche 6, Flames 2: Colorado defenseman Cale Makar scored a playoff goal in his NHL debut against visiting Calgary, his favorite childhood team, to lead the victory. Colorado leads the series 2-1. Makar, 20, signed a three-year deal with Colorado on Sunday — a day after his college season ended when Massachusetts lost in the Frozen Four championship game to Minnesota-Duluth.
Briefly: The Flyers hired Alain Vigneault as head coach, hoping he can help lead them to their first Stanley Cup title since 1975. … Defenseman Jacob Bryson is skipping his senior season at Providence after signing a three-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres.
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