Phoenix Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal has been suspended for two games without pay for charging Edmonton defenseman Jeff Petry during the first period of Saturday’s victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Jobing.com Arena.
Petry was shaken up on the play but remained in the game.
In announcing the decision, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety said Hanzal launched up and into Petry and is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement because of a one-game suspension in 2012 playoffs for a boarding incident involving the Kings’ Dustin Brown. He will forfeit $75,609.76.
Hanzal is off to a strong start for the Coyotes. He has five goals, tying him for the team lead with Radim Vrbata and Mike Ribeiro, and his 11 points are second to Vrbata’s 12. He’ll miss home games on Tuesday against Los Angeles and Thursday against Nashville.
Hanzal’s absence will be a tough loss to absorb agains the Kings, who beat the Coyotes 7-4 last week in Los Anageles.
The Coyotes (7-3-2) are 4-0-1 at home and have scored 21 goals in those five games, but Coach Dave Tippett knows they need to tighten up defensively.
“Don’t get me wrong. I like winning,” Tippett said. “Any time you win, you should have a smile on your face. But what I look at is how we’re going to win long term. There are just some things in our game that are going to have to improve if we’re going to win long term.”
Mike Smith, who signed a six-year, $34 million contract extension in the off-season has a 4.06 goals-against average in his last five starts against the Kings and was pulled in the first period of last week’s loss.
Los Angeles (8-4-0) defeated the Oilers 2-1 in a shootout Sunday, overcoming a strong effort by Edmonton’s Richard Bachman, who made 47 saves after being called up from the minors to fill in for the injured Devan Dubnyk. The win was the Kings’ fourth in five games.