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Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk has been suspended two games by the NHL for elbowing Kings defenseman Drew Doughty in the face Sunday night.
The NHL's Department of Player Safety announced the punishment late Monday shortly after a hearing with the 19-year-old winger, whom Doughty denounced as a "dirty player" following the 5-2 Kings loss in Calgary. In its explanation, the league cited Tkachuk's "reckless nature" during the play to warrant his first NHL suspension.
The late first-period elbow knocked Doughty down and out for the rest of the period. There was no penalty assessed on the play for the elbow, but Tkachuk and the Kings' Derek Forbort received roughing minors for an ensuing scuffle. Doughty returned in the second period and still logged a game-high 28:17.
Afterward, the veteran defenseman offered a not-so-flattering assessment of the rookie's growing reputation as a suspect player.
“He’s a pretty dirty player, that kid. To be a rookie and play like that is a little surprising,” Doughty told L.A. Kings Insider. “I don’t know exactly what happened because I got hit in the head, but I thought he elbowed me. Whatever it was, it hurt pretty bad, and it’s going to hurt for a little bit.”
Tkachuk, the sixth overall draft pick in 2016 and son of former NHL power forward Keith Tkachuk, defended the play, telling reporters after the game he was simply trying to stand ground and prevent Doughty from slipping by to steal the puck.
In 68 games, Tkachuk has 13 goals and 46 points, tied for fifth among NHL rookies.
The 6-0, 195-pound Thachuk skates integral minutes for the Flames, the NHL's hottest team. He'll miss a pair of road contests against the Capitals and Predators this week.
The Flames and Kings have two meetings remaining this season, and it's likely Thachuk will have to answer for his actions then, too.
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