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Players suspended for illegal hits

Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw and Pittsburgh forward Arron Asham both received multi-game suspensions on Tuesday for illegal hits during first-round action of the NHL playoffs.

Asham has been banned four games for cross-checking Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn while Shaw was suspended for three games for hitting Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith.

Shaw began serving his suspension on Tuesday when the Blackhawks resumed play against Phoenix while Asham's suspension begins on Wednesday when the Penguins play Game Four in Philadelphia.

The first round of the playoffs have been characterized by outbursts of fighting and physical play, particularly in Game Three of the series between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

The game featured 133 penalty minutes and first period ejections of Pittsburgh's Kris Letang and Asham and Philadelphia's Kimmo Timonen.

Pittsburgh's James Neal was banned one game for charging Philadelphia's Claude Giroux in Game Three while Washington's Nicklas Backstrom received a one-game penalty for cross-checking Boston's Rich Peverley in Game Three of their series.

The Bruins and Capitals play the fourth game of their series on Thursday in Washington.

(Writing by Frank Pingue and Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury; greg.stutchbury@thomsonreuters.com; +64 4 802 7982; Reuters Messaging: greg.stutchbury.reuters.net@thomsonreuters.com. For the sports blog Left Field go to: http://blogs.reuters.com/sport))