NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Rangers defenseman John Moore was suspended for two games by the NHL on Wednesday for an illegal check to Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise’s head in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Moore received a match penalty for the hit in the third period of Montreal’s 7-4 home victory Tuesday night.
The suspension matches the two-game ban that Canadiens forward Brandon Prust received for his late hit against Derek Stepan in Game 3 that left the New York forward with a broken jaw. Prust wasn’t penalized during the game.
“It’s kind of what I would’ve thought would’ve happened,” Canadiens captain Brian Gionta said Wednesday night about Moore’s suspension after the team arrived at its New York hotel. “They were very similar plays, and I guess the precedent was set on Prust’s hit.”
Stepan missed one game because of his injury, but scored two goals in his return to the lineup Tuesday night.
Weise was staggered and looked wobbly following the hit from Moore, but later returned to the game after being cleared by doctors and spending time in a quiet room.
Prust is eligible to play in Game 6 on Thursday night in New York. Moore will miss the remaining two games in the series if it goes the distance, or will sit out Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals if the Rangers — who hold a 3-2 lead — advance with a Game 6 win.
“I think it’s fair,” Canadiens forward Daniel Briere said about the latest ban. “Brandon paid the price for it. If you talk to us, we’re probably thinking more (games). If you talk to the Rangers, they were thinking less, obviously.
“I guess it’s kind of a middle ground. I think the biggest thing is seeing that Dale is OK. That’s what matters the most for us.”
The Rangers, who also traveled to New York on Wednesday, didn’t have an immediate reaction to Moore’s suspension. Raphael Diaz will likely fill in for Moore on defense, but New York coach Alain Vigneault declined to speculate on that when he spoke earlier in the day before leaving Montreal.
“It was a hit that Johnny caught him a little high in the chest. The player didn’t see it coming,” Vigneault said. “It probably warrants the penalty that was given on the ice. Other than that, I don’t see what else it could warrant, but I’ve been surprised before.
“The player didn’t see him coming, but the guy was admiring his pass a little bit at the same time. Unfortunately, it was a hit and because of the force of the hit, the head seemed to snap back a little bit. But as far as what I know about league standards and from what I heard from the Prust hit where the dynamics of the hit changed because Stepan was hurt, I don’t see that at this time.”
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