Washington Capitals defenceman John Erskine has been suspended three games for elbowing. (REUTERS)
Washington Capitals defenceman John Erskine has been suspended three games for elbowing Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds Friday night.
With just under two minutes remaining in the first period of what turned out to be a 3-2 win for the Caps, Erskine arrived late to the puck and in a attempt to check Simmonds out of the play, raised his elbow and caught Simmonds in the face.
Replays showed Simmonds crumble to the ice and hit his helmeted head on the surface.
“(The pair) where pursuing a 50-50 puck in the Philadelphia zone,” NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan explained in announcing the punishment. “When Erskine realized he was going to get beat, he tried to get a piece of his opponent to prevent an outnumbered rush. In doing so, he raised his elbow, striking Simmons in the face.
“Erskine looked up and clearly (was) aware of Simmons’ proximity before delivering the illegal hit."
Although no penalty was called on the play, Erskine was summoned to a hearing in New York Saturday afternoon to hear the ruling.
Simmonds, who left Friday night’s game with a bloody nose, was initially diagnosed with whiplash and missed Saturday night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“Obviously he’s got a head injury and probably a little bit of a whiplash going on right now,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told the Delco Times. “He seemed OK after the game. We’re just going to have to wait and see how he is.”
STARS PLACE WHITNEY ON IR
Dallas Stars forward Ray Whitney has been placed on the injured reserve list after suffering a lower body injury.
Whitney, the Stars leading scorer this season, has been dealing with a foot injury suffered against the Minnesota Wild during the second game of the season.
The 40-year-old featured Friday night against the Phoenix Coyotes, registering an assist, but was fitted with a walking boot away from the ice.
The two-time NHL all-star has two goals and four assists through eight games in 2013 to bring his career points total to 1,009 in 1,237 career regular season games.
Whitney will miss 4-6 weeks with the injury.
The Stars also announced Saturday it has recalled forward Reilly Smith from the club’s AHL affiliate.
TORRES RETURNS TO ACTION
Phoenix Coyotes tough guy Raffi Torres returned Saturday night from a 21-game suspension, stemming from a vicious hit on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa during last year’s playoffs.
“I'm excited (to play), it's been quite a long time,” Torres told NHL.com after missing the first eight games following the lockout. “I just want to be out there helping the boys out.”
Because Torres is a repeat offender, Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett has reportedly spent time playing back games in an effort to correct some of the traits that tend to see his left winger hit with suspension.
“A bunch (of the video clips) were me running out of position to make a big hit,” Torres said. “It's got to be non-existent this year. I can't be running out of position, giving up my man in order to throw a big hit.”
Hossa has since bounced back following last year’s incident that saw him carted off the ice in a neck brace.
The Blackhawks’ winger has five goals and four assists through eight games since returning from injury.
BRIEFLY: Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty’s looks poised for a remarkable recovery after undergoing an emergency appendectomy that was supposed to keep him out for at least a month. According to RDS, however, Pacioretty could return as early as Sunday afternoon, just eight days after the procedure.