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Habs forward Pacioretty hit with a three-game suspension for Letang head shot

The Canadian Press
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Pittsburgh Penguins\' Kris Letang, left, is tended to by teammate Matt Cooke after being hit by Montreal Canadiens\' Max Pacioretty during third period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, November 26, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes Author: The Hockey News

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Habs forward Pacioretty hit with a three-game suspension for Letang head shot

The Canadian Press
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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. - Max Pacioretty has been hit with a three-game suspension for his head shot on Pittsburgh defenceman Kris Letang.

The NHL announced the decision Monday night after the Montreal Canadiens forward had an over-the-phone hearing with league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan earlier in the day.

The incident occurred late in the third period of Montreal's 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh when Pacioretty caught Letang with a shoulder to the head, leaving the Penguins player bloodied with a broken nose.

Letang, who suffered a broken nose as a result of the hit, returned to the game and scored the winning goal in overtime. No penalty was assessed on the play.

"While we agree with Pacioretty's assertion that Letang's body position makes it difficult to avoid the head, it is still his responsibility to make principle contact through the core of Letang's body," said Shanahan in his video statement on the decision.

"Instead Pacioretty shifts his weight to his right leg just prior to contact, changing his body position in a way that makes Letang's head and not his body a principle point of contact."

Pacioretty is no stranger when it comes to punishing hits. He suffered a concussion and fractured vertebra last season after a hit from Boston's Zdeno Chara.

"I'm sorry for what happened and I'm glad he's okay," Pacioretty said after the game when he also reportedly apologized to Letang. "I feel terrible that he got hurt and I'm thankful that he came back."

Pacioretty will be eligible to return Dec. 6 when the Canadiens take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Under the terms of the CBA, he will forfeit US$26,351.34 in salary.

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Habs forward Pacioretty hit with a three-game suspension for Letang head shot