Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) totaled 37 points, with 17 goals, through 37 games so far this season. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo
April 12 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is suspended, without pay, for four games for his recent cross-check to the face of Nashville Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki, the NHL announced.
The league's department of player safety announced the suspension Tuesday night. The incident occurred in the second period of the Penguins' 3-2 victory Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Malkin and Borowiecki were tangled up in front of the Predators net to spark the exchange. Malkin responded by slashing his stick into Borowiecki's midsection. The Predators defenseman then raised his arms, but Malkin slammed his stick right into his face.
Malkin was assessed with a double-minor penalty for high-sticking. He totaled four penalty minutes in the victory. Borowiecki was given a minor for slashing and served two penalty minutes.
"It is important to note this is not a case where Malkin raises his stick defensively or reflexively to protect himself," the NHL department of player safety said in an explanation video. "We find Malkin's cross-check to be retaliatory and aggressive. While we heard Malkin's assertion that Borowiecki initiated the scrum by restraining him and confronting him, neither action merited Malkin's response.
"Players are not excused from violating league rules because of the actions of their opponents. There is simply no justification for a player to forcefully and intentionally cross-check another player in this manner."
Penguins center Sidney Crosby scored twice and logged an assist in the victory. Left wing Jason Zucker also scored for Pittsburgh. Right wing Rickard Rakell totaled three assists.
Predators centers Matt Duchene and Nick Cousins scored in the loss.
Malkin totaled 37 points, with 17 goals, through 37 games so far this season. Crosby leads the team with 76 points, including 28 goals and 47 assists in 61 games. Penguins center Jake Guentzel lead the team with 33 goals and is second in points, with 71.
"It's an emotional game out there," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters Sunday. "It's physical. Sometimes that stuff happens. It was a physical game, especially at the net fronts, where that took place. Obviously we don't want our best players in the penalty box, but these guys are competitive guys. They push back."
The Penguins (42-22-10) face the New York Islanders (33-29-9) at 7:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday at UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y. Malkin is expected to miss that game, another game Thursday against the Islanders and two games against the Boston Bruins. He also is expected to forfeit $190,000 in salary.