NEW YORK – The NHL suspended Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson three games on Wednesday for an illegal hit on Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese.
The league announced the suspension less than 24 hours after Wilson broke Aston-Reese’s jaw with a violent collision near the Washington bench in the second period of Washington’s 4-3 Game 3 victory over the Penguins.
Aston-Reese was stickhandling near the Capitals bench when Wilson drilled the rookie with his left shoulder. The force propelled Wilson up into the Washington bench while Aston-Reese lay on the ice for several moments before skating off. He was later diagnosed with a concussion and a broken jaw.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety ruled Wilson made Aston-Reese’s head the initial point of contact during the collision, pointing out that Wilson did not have to pivot to his left side to hit Aston-Reese.
The league said Aston-Reese made no sudden movement at the last second that made contact unavoidable. The league pointed out several ways Wilson could have finished the play legally only to instead launch himself at Aston-Reese.
“He extends up and into the hit unnecessarily,” the league said in a video.
While Wilson was not penalized during the game, the league’s Department of Player Safety called for a hearing on Wednesday.
This isn’t the first time this season Wilson has been disciplined by the league. He was forced to sit out two preseason games following a late hit on St. Louis Blues rookie Robert Thomas and was suspended for the first four games of the regular season for boarding Blues forward Sammy Blais shortly after his return.
The league pointed out Wilson’s status as a repeat offender as a factor in the length of the suspension it handed out.
Game 4 is scheduled for Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
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