ST. PAUL, Minn. — Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown has been suspended two games by the NHL for elbowing Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville in Tuesday’s 2-1 Minnesota victory.
During the second period, Brown collected the puck near the side boards and saw Pominville closing in. As Pominville approached, Brown turned toward Pominville, braced himself for a hit and elbowed the Wild forward in the chin. Pominville went down and was visibly shaken as he skated off the ice.
“Brown sees and feels the Minnesota player approaching, he’s in control of this play and is timing his counter-hit, that part is legal,” the league said in a video released Wednesday. “What isn’t is how Brown makes this contact. He extends his elbow right into the face of a player he was waiting to counter-hit. And while we’ve seen similar counter-hits this season that have resulted in injuries, what makes this one different is the control that Brown has over this contact. This was not an inadvertent elbow caused by Pominville’s sudden movement.”
No penalty was called on the play, but Pominville missed the rest of the game. Minnesota coach Mike Yeo didn’t have an update on Pominville’s status after the victory, and the Wild had a day off Wednesday.
“You hate to see a hit to the head, that’s all,” Yeo said after the game. “I can’t really say much more than that.”
Brown, who has not been fined or suspended previously in his nine-year career, will miss the Kings’ final two regular-season game but will be able to return for the playoffs.
“I haven’t seen it yet, but I have the puck on my stick, he’s coming to hit me, I’m just bracing myself,” Brown said after the game. “Almost the reverse. I don’t know, like I said, I haven’t seen it yet.”
Los Angeles enters Wednesday in fifth place in the Western Conference
with 57 points and has games remaining at Detroit and at home against
Brown’s suspension could actually hurt Minnesota. He will miss Wednesday’s game against the Red Wings, who are still within striking distance of the Wild in the West. Minnesota is in seventh place with 53 points and two games remaining; Detroit in ninth with 50 points and has three games left. Eight teams will go to the playoffs.
The Wild didn’t retaliate Tuesday for Brown’s hit on Pominville, focusing instead on a must-win game against the Kings.
“It’s difficult,” Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck said. “At the same time, we had a clear goal in mind that we couldn’t really allow ourselves to get distracted. I think the way things are these days, if somebody feels it deserves a second look then they will take a second look.”