Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Andrew Shaw was suspended by the NHL on Tuesday for three games for his hit on Phoenix goalie Mike Smith in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
Smith was playing the puck behind the net when Shaw skated in and caught the goalie in the head with his shoulder, knocking him to the ice. Smith got up after about five minutes and stayed in the game.
Smith didn’t practice Monday, but skated Tuesday morning and was in the starting lineup that night for Game 3. The teams alternated overtime wins in the opening two games played at Phoenix.
Shaw was ejected after hitting Smith on Saturday night. NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan said Shaw’s contact with Smith wasn’t incidental and that the rookie didn’t make a reasonable effort to avoid Smith.
”It is a forceful blow delivered by Shaw’s shoulder to Smith’s chin,” Shanahan said. ”This is not a case of a skater and goaltender colliding while pursuing a loose puck. Shaw skated a considerable distance and hits the head of the stationary goaltender who has possession of the puck.”
The 20-year-old Shaw, who was playing on an effective third line with Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell, appeared in 37 regular-season games and scored 12 goals with 11 assists. He was averaging 13:27 of ice time in the first two playoff games.
Shaw said during a phone hearing on Monday that he tried to make a point that he didn’t intentionally hit Smith.
”It was more of how I didn’t have enough time to get out of the way,” Shaw said Tuesday before the suspension was announced. ”I let them know that next time I’ll go in there with more control. … But it happens in a split second, so it’s hard to think that fast.”