Blues center Ivan Barbashev has been suspended one game for an illegal check to the head, the NHL department of player safety announced Friday.
Barbashev lowered his shoulder and belted Bruins forward Marcus Johansson in the chin after Johansson fired a shot toward the net in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final Thursday at TD Garden. The blow lifted Johansson in the air, and he spun 180 degrees before hitting the ice. Johansson stayed down for a few moments before completing his shift.
No penalty was called on the play.
“Barbashev delivers a high, forceful hit that makes Johansson’s head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable,” the league said in a video. “It is important to note that the head is the main point of contact on this play.”
Johansson said after Game 5 he was “a little bit” surprised there was no whistle, but noted he felt “good” ahead of Game 6.
“No lingering effects that I’m aware of,” coach Bruce Cassidy said Friday at Warrior Ice Arena, referring to Johansson and Noel Acciari, who was slew footed and checked for a concussion after Game 5. “I thought it was a high hit that I thought the officials were close enough to call. They didn’t.”
Barbashev’s suspension comes on the heels of a game that featured multiple contentious incidents involving the referees, including the non-call that led to the Blues’ second goal midway through the third period.
With Barbashev out, the Blues will be missing a member of their fourth line and penalty-killing unit. Blues coach Craig Berube has praised the 23-year-old forward for his physicality and relentlessness on the puck and forecheck. In 30 games this postseason, Barbashev has three goals and three assists.
“He’s obviously a very competitive guy, plays with a lot of intensity and passion on both sides of the puck,” added Barbashev’s linemate Alexander Steen. “He’s really intelligent, so a good player for us.”
Earlier in the series, Blues center Oskar Sundqvist had to serve a one-game suspension for boarding Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk in Game 2. Grzelcyk remains in concussion protocol and has yet to return to game action.