Caps D Erskine suspended three games

The National Hockey League issued a three- game suspension to Washington Capitals defenseman John Erskine on Saturday for his actions in Friday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Erskine was punished for his hit to the head on Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds late in the first period of a 3-2 Capitals victory. He was not given a penalty on the play, while Simmonds left the game and did not return.

"When Erskine realizes he is going to get beat (to the puck along the boards), he tries to get a piece of his opponent to prevent an outnumbered rush. However, in doing so, he raises his elbow, striking Simmonds in the face. As Erskine looks up, he is clearly aware of Simmonds' proximity before delivering the illegal hit," stated NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan in a video explanation of the ruling.

"While we acknowledge there was no malicious intent, and that Erskine was reacting to getting beat, this nevertheless is a reckless elbow to the head that caused a serious injury."

Erskine, a first-time offender, will forfeit $24,324.33 in salary, which automatically goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. He will be eligible to return to action when the Caps host the Florida Panthers on Feb. 9.