Ryan Hartman of the Minnesota Wild has been suspended one game for interfering with Nikolai Ehlers of the Winnipeg Jets, which will cause him to miss the regular-season finale but make him available for the start of the playoffs.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced the suspension Wednesday after a disciplinary hearing by phone with Hartman, who won’t be able to play Thursday night at Nashville. The Wild are locked into the third seed in the Central Division.
Any longer of a suspension would have caused Hartman to miss Game 1 or more of their first-round series. Minnesota will open on the road against either Dallas or defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado.
Hartman hit Ehlers when the Jets forward did not have the puck on a play midway through the third period of the teams’ game in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Tuesday. He was given a minor penalty for interference.
“He’s in a vulnerable position,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “He is. And you hate to see those hits.”
The league agreed. In a video announcing the suspension, player safety called it “a forceful body check on a player who is not eligible to be hit and is not prepared to protect himself” and disagreed with Hartman’s argument that he was just bracing for contact.
Bowness did not have an update on Ehlers’ condition after the Jets’ win that clinched a playoff spot, the second and final wild card in the Western Conference.
It’s Hartman’s second career suspension after being banned one playoff game in 2018 for an illegal check to the head of Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog while with Nashville. He previously has been fined six times, and this suspension will cost him $9,189, with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Hartman’s suspension was not the only discipline handed out from a game between division rivals that got heated, with 51 combined penalty minutes and a fight — and even included Bowness and Minnesota coach Dean Evason yelling at each other from the opposing benches.
Jets defenseman Neal Pionk was fined $5,000, the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, for cross-checking Wild forward Marcus Johansson in the final minute.
“They got really dirty,” Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck said afterward. ”I don’t know why. We were playing hard. I guess they were playing hard, too, but they were getting a little unnecessary. I think maybe the refs let it get a little out of control. That’s playoff hockey right there. That’s it.”
The playoffs begin Monday.
AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in St. Paul, Minnesota, contributed to this report.
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