New York, NY – The National Hockey League handed down suspensions to a pair of Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.
Forward Arron Asham was given a four-game ban and forward James Neal was issued a one-game penalty for actions taken during Sunday's 8-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Asham's sentence will effectively last the remainder of the best-of-seven set, which Philadelphia leads three games to none heading into Game 4 on Wednesday night.
The former Flyer was given a match penalty for attempt to injure in the first period of Sunday's contest, going up high to cross-check Flyers forward Brayden Schenn in the throat, then adding several extra shots while Schenn lay prone on the ice.
"Reacting to his teammate being hit, Asham skates directly toward Schenn from the middle of the ice and intentionally cross-checks him high and with force. He then punches the defenseless player in the back of the head. Asham's stick never actually makes contact with Schenn's face. However, the violent, vengeful nature of the cross check is unacceptable," said NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan.
"We have taken into consideration that Schenn escaped serious injury as a result. It is also important to note that while he is a physical player, Asham has not been fined or suspended during his 13-season NHL career."
Neal, who had two separate hearings, was suspended for one incident -- that of charging Flyers forward Claude Giroux with 4:42 remaining in the contest. Earlier in the shift, Neal was unpenalized for taking a run at rookie forward Sean Couturier, leaving his feet to deliver a hit the 19-year-old from the blind side.
"While we are willing to accept Neal's assertion that he jumped to brace himself for an unintended collision, the fact that, 42 seconds later, he launches to prior to making contact with Giroux, is not acceptable," Shanahan continued.