NEW YORK, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Washington Capitals superstar forward Alex Ovechkin will miss three games after being suspended for making an illegal hit, the NHL announced Monday.
Brendan Shanahan, head of the NHL's department of player safety, said Ovechkin left his feet while targeting the head of Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek in the second period of Sunday 's 4-3 overtime Capitals loss.
"Although Michalek's shoulder might have been the initial point of contact for this hit, the act of launching causes contact to Michalek's head," Shanahan said. "Often on big hits or collisions, a player's feet will come off slightly ... this, however, is not one of those occasions."
Shanahan said Ovechkin acted recklessly by driving upward and launching himself into the air -- overriding his claim that he didn't mean to make contact with Michalek's head.
Michalek suffered no apparent injury after the hit.
Ovechkin is having a rough season by his standards, notching 20 goals and 39 points in 47 games.