PITTSBURGH — Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen won’t be facing any supplemental discipline from the NHL for his high cross-check on Sidney Crosby. The Penguins captain had to be helped off the ice, and he didn’t return to the game.
Niskanen was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the collision with Crosby, but he won’t have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Tuesday. It’s unclear whether Crosby suffered a head injury when Niskanen’s stick caught him high, or if it was the way he awkwardly landed on his left leg that did the most damage. Pittsburgh Coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby would be reevaluated on Tuesday, and he declined to disclose if Crosby suffered an upper-body or lower-body injury.
Sullivan declined to share his opinion of the cross-check. Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said it was “a hockey play.” After the game, Niskanen said it was “absolutely not” his intention to injure Crosby, and he provided a detailed account of his thought process of the play.
“I’ve seen the replay,” Niskanen said. “In super slow-mo, it looks really bad. I caught him high. He’s coming across trying to score. As he’s doing that, he’s getting lower and lower, and when it’s happening that fast, you know, my stick and his head collided. I wasn’t extending trying to hit him in the head. It happened quickly.
“I wasn’t even trying to cross check him with a serious amount of force. A collision was going to happen there in the crease. When the play first starts, I think my stick’s at about his arm level probably, right about where the numbers are on the side of his jersey. And because he’s trying to make a play, he’s getting lower and lower because he’s getting pressured, trying to score, so the collision happened there.”