BOSTON - Rene Bourque’s elbow to the jaw of Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss has earned him a five-game suspension and more than US$203,000 in forfeited salary.
The Calgary Flames winger was suspended for the second time in less than three weeks.
Bourque lifted his arm into Backstrom’s face as he skated by him midway through the third period of the game in Washington. He received a minor penalty.
Backstrom played on the ensuing powerplay and had two more shifts, but left the game before its conclusion.
“When we look at the events of this game, we believe Bourque’s assertion that this was an instinctive reflex rather than a premeditated attempt to injure,” said NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan in his video explanation of the suspension. “However as all of the parties in the hearing agreed, this reckless elbow to the head is indefensible.”
Shanahan said the length of the suspension was based on the face Backstrom, Washington’s leading point producer, was injured on the play, as well as the fact Bourque is a repeat offender.
Bourque, who has 13 goals and 16 points this season for the Flames, was suspended two games in December for a check from behind on Chicago’s Brent Seabrook.
The extent of Backstrom’s injury hasn’t been made known. His brother, Kristoffer, wrote on Twitter the centre underwent concussion testing, but the results were inconclusive, according to the Washington Post.
Capitals coach Dale Hunter said Backstrom had an off-ice workout, but the player was not made available to the media.
Bourque is eligible to return to action Jan. 17 when the Flames face the San Jose Sharks.
Raitis Ivanans is due to play his first NHL game in nearly 15 months after being recalled from the AHL Abbotsford Heat Wednesday.
Ivanans, who suffered a horrible concussion in a fight with then Edmonton Oilers enforcer Steve MacIntyre during the 2010-11 season opener, has spent the bulk of this season in the minors.
He has collected one goal, three points and 15 penalty minutes in 13 AHL contests.
The 6-foot-3, 231-lb. product of Riga, Latvia, signed a two-year contract prior to last season.
Ivanans, 33, has played 281 career NHL games, in which he has 12 goals, 18 points and 569 penalty minutes.
TWO TO THE FARM
Defenceman Brett Carson’s second return from injury this season is at the next step, after being sent to the AHL Heat for a conditioning stint, along with forward Greg Nemisz.
Carson played a couple of NHL games in early December after missing most of the first two months of the season due to a back injury suffered in the off-season. However, after those games, Carson was put back on the injured list.
Carson is included in the team’s 23-man roster while on a conditioning assignment, which can last up to two weeks.
Nemisz, the club’s 2008 first-round draft choice, has played two NHL games this season.
He has netted seven goals and 18 points in 28 AHL contests.
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak