Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen was suspended for one game for a cross-check that bloodied the Montreal Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher in Game 5 of their first-round series.
But Gallagher is expected out longer because Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced that the forward suffered a broken jaw and would need surgery. Because Gallagher has to leave the Toronto bubble, he'll need to quarantine before resuming play. The Canadiens ruled him out of the rest of the series.
The NHL noted that Gallagher's sudden movement contributed to Niskanen making contact with the Montreal player's face, but objected to the force and intent of the cross-check.
"Players are responsible for their stick at all times, and when a player attempts to intentionally use his stick to deliver a blow to an opponent, he cannot necessarily be excused from responsibility when the blow recklessly lands in an unintended area," the league said.
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The Canadiens had tweeted out a video of the third-period incident, which went unpenalized. The team decided to reveal the nature of his injury, rather than sticking with the NHL protocol of merely saying that Gallagher was deemed "unfit to play."
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said before the suspension and announcement of the injury that he thought it was a hockey play.
“In my estimation, Gallagher got up and he seemed fine,’’ he said. “He was talking to the referees the whole time he was on the bench, talking to our players for the rest of the game. I think Gallagher’s a competitive player, but I don’t think it’s Nisky’s fault … (Gallagher) might not be as tall as some of the other guys, but he competes as big, if not bigger than anybody else."
The Flyers lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can wrap it up Friday.
Gallagher has four points in nine postseason games, including a goal in the Canadiens' 5-3 win Wednesday that extended Montreal's season.
Niskanen has averaged 22 minutes a game this postseason, second on the Flyers. Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere could end up replacing him.
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