Careless or malicious? Either way, Montreal's Douglas Murray warrants a suspension for his brutal elbow on Tampa Bay's Michael Kostka Tuesday night.
What a buzzy night for the NHL. We saw Sidney Crosby's 100th point, a warm, fuzzy game-winning goal by David Clarkson to keep Toronto's playoff hopes alive, a surprisingly competitive game between the Sabres and Devils...and oh, boy, the Canadiens and Lightning.
The story should be the continuously inspired play of Tampa's Ryan Callahan and Tyler Johnson, or Carey Price's spectacular effort in defeat. Unfortunately, hulking Habs blueliner Douglas Murray did this to Bolts defenseman Michael Kosta:
Eek. Hard to defend this one, and I won't. Murray takes a good look at Kostka, leaves his feet (better angles around the 1:10 mark), and extends his elbow into Kostka's chin. Murray was assessed a match penalty for the hit and Tampa Bay scored on the ensuing power play to put the game out of reach. Though Kostka spurned the stretcher, got up and left the ice under his own power afterwards, he will undoubtedly receive concussion tests.
At the very least, Murray deserves a multi-game suspension for being careless and making contact with the head. At the very worst, this was a malicious act that warrants a ban for the rest of the regular season, if not longer. Since we know the NHL is harder on repeat offenders and Murray has never been suspended before, I'd expect the punishment to land somewhere in between.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin