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Leafs’ Kadri could face suspension for high hit

Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri could be facing yet another postseason suspension.

Kadri received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a high hit on Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk late in the third period of Game 2 in the teams’ first-round series. The Bruins won 4-1 to tie the series at one game apiece. Game 3 is Monday in Toronto.

DeBrusk delivered a hard hit on Toronto’s Patrick Marleau, and was standing near the boards when Kadri hit him high with his stick. The hit knocked Debrusk to the ice and the Bruins forward did not return to the game.

“It looked like a crosscheck to the face,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I assume it’ll be dealt with, or looked at, and we’ll go from there.”

DeBrusk said he underwent tests after the game and is still waiting for the results. He declined to speak about the Kadri cross check. Kadri was not made available after the game.

If Kadri is unavailable for Game 3, Toronto coach Mike Babcock said he will play either William Nylander or Marleau in Kadri’s slot as the team’s third line center.

In last year’s playoffs, Kadri was suspended three games for boarding Boston forward Tommy Wingels. The Maple Leafs went on to lose that series in seven games.

The Department of Player Safety factors in a player’s history into its discipline. Kadri has four career suspensions. Kadri was also suspended four games in April 2016 for cross-checking. His other suspensions have included four games for an illegal hit in 2015 and three games for goalie interference in 2013.

After the hit on Wingels in last year’s playoffs, Kadri spoke to reporters and defended the play.

“I certainly wasn’t trying to hit him while he was down like that. I was already committed to the hit,” Kadri said at the time. “If he’s still standing up, there isn’t anything wrong on that, but he fell.”

Several Maple Leafs players made available after Saturday’s game said they did not see Kadri’s hit on Debrusk from a proper angle and therefore did not want to comment on it.

“It was kind of in a blind spot for us on the bench,” winger Zach Hyman said.

Kadri’s hit on DeBrusk could be seen as retaliatory. In the second period, Debrusk collided with Kadri in what appeared to be a knee-on-knee hit. Kadri was down on the ice for several minutes, and had to exit the game. No penalty was called on the play.

“Judging by the way Naz went down, it didn’t seem great,” Toronto defenseman Morgan Reilly said. ” I talked to the ref, he said he dropped him, and it was just a big hit.”

Said Cassidy: “I thought it was clean. Looking back on it, shoulder to shoulder. Obviously Kadri stayed down. I mean that’s his prerogative when you get hit.”

Kadri returned in the third period and scored Toronto’s lone goal.

Several Maple Leafs players, including Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Reilly, said they had no issue with the officiating on Saturday.

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