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Malkin suspended 1 game for retaliatory swing

Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin was suspended one game by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Tuesday for an “intentional stick swing, with force, for the purposes of retaliation” against Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl.

It is Malkin’s first suspension in his 835-game NHL career, although he was fined twice before. The center will miss Pittsburgh’s home game against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

Malkin was given a match penalty for high-sticking at 15:06 of the third period of the Penguins’ 4-1 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia on Monday night. After a battle for the puck near the benches, Raffl landed a punch to the back of Malkin’s head. Malkin responded by swinging his stick toward Raffl’s head. The Flyers forward instinctively ducked out of the way.

“I don’t know why I’m not playing smart with five minutes left,” Malkin said after the game. “I know it’s scary, but I didn’t touch his helmet or his shoulder. I gave them a five-minute power play. It’s my fault, for sure.”

The NHL said his stick did make contact with Raffl.

“It’s important to note that while we understand Malkin’s contention that his stick only made glancing contact with Raffl, this does not excuse his actions. NHL stick fouls do not require that contact be made for discipline to be assessed,” the NHL said in its ruling.

This is the 14th non-mandatory NHL Department of Player Safety suspension of the 2018-19 season, the last coming on Jan. 17 when the Nashville PredatorsRyan Johansen received two games for high-sticking the Winnipeg JetsMark Scheifele.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and based on his average annual salary, Malkin will forfeit $51,075.27. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

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