April 17, 2012

NHL suspends Caps' Backstrom for Game 4 against Bruins

By Jesse Connolly

The NHL announced late Tuesday night that Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom has been suspended for Game 4 of Washington’s quarterfinal series against the Boston Bruins. 

The Capitals will be without Nicklas Backstrom in Game 4. (Getty Images)

After the final horn sounded Monday night at Verizon Center, Rich Peverley and Alex Ovechkin got into it in the corner, with Peverley responding to a not-so-friendly stick whack below the belt by tripping the Russian forward. Backstrom skated over and Peverley began to raise his stick, at which point Backstrom swiftly crosschecked Peverley in the face, striking him square across the visor with his stick. He was assessed a match penalty.

League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan had the option to rescind the automatic one-game suspension that accompanies the match penalty but elected not to.

Earlier in the day, Capitals coach Dale Hunter insisted Backstrom was trying to protect his face and stated he believed the B’s were targeting his forward’s head. Backstrom missed most of the second half of the season – 40 games, to be exact – due to a concussion.

Bruins bench boss Claude Julien also weighed in on the matter during the team’s media availability on Tuesday.

“We’re not a team that will go down -- and I’ve said that many times -- and start rolling on the ice for no reason,” Julien said. “So, I’m proud of Pevs for standing up on his feet, taking the cross-check to the face, and not embellishing. And that’s what I want my team to keep doing.

“The rest – we all have jobs to do and you let the people that are responsible for that to make those kinds of decisions. We’re going to keep moving forward and we’re going to stay focused on our series. Nothing from the decision is going to detract us from that.”

Backstrom had two points in the first three games of the series, scoring the winner in overtime in Game 2 and adding an assist in Washington’s 4-3 loss in Game 3 on Monday. 

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.