Ovechkin suspended for three games

Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin was suspended for three games without pay by the National Hockey League on Monday.

Ovechkin left his feet to deliver a high, hard check to the head of Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek early in the second period of a 4-3 Penguins' overtime victory on Sunday.

"Although Michalek's shoulder might have been the initial point of contact for this hit, the act of launching causes contact to Michalek's head. Often on big hits or collisions, a player's feet will come off slightly...this, however, is not one of those occasions," said Brendan Shanahan, head of the NHL's department of player safety, during a video explanation of the suspension.

"Ovechkin drives upward, launching and recklessly makes contact with Michalek's head. Michalek makes no sudden or unpredictable movements just prior to the hit that might contribute to the violent nature of this check. While we accept Ovechkin's assertion that he did not intend to hit the player in the head, the moment Ovechkin launches into the air, he becomes responsible for any contact to the head."

The 26-year-old was not penalized on the play, and Michalek suffered no apparent injury after the hit.

In his seventh season, the Moscow native has posted only 20 goals and 39 points in 47 games.