Florida Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk nets two-game suspension

Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk has been suspended for two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for poking Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick in the face with his stick on Saturday night.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Tkachuk will forfeit $102,702.70. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

The incident occurred at 19:22 of the third period, with the Panthers trailing the Kings 5-4. Florida defenseman Brandon Montour took a shot from the point that Quick covered. Tkachuk was standing near the crease and poked the Kings goalie in the mask with his stick.

Tkachuk was given a two-minute minor for goalie interference and a 10-minute misconduct penalty. The Kings won the game 5-4.

“While we heard Tkachuk’s argument that he was not intentionally aiming for Quick’s face in an attempt to injure him, he was intentionally using his stick to hit an opponent in the head, making contact with his face,” the Department of Player Safety said in its ruling.

The NHL agreed that the stick wasn’t delivered with substantial force but said that “it was only because of that lack of force that the play wasn’t met with more severe discipline.”

It’s the third career suspension for Tkachuk, who was suspended for one game twice in 2017-18 for unsportsmanlike conduct while with the Calgary Flames. He was also fined last season for high-sticking John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars.

Tkachuk missed the Panthers’ 5-3 win at the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. He’ll also miss the team’s home matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.

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