Bruins’ Liles ducks suspension for Kucherov headshot

Brad Marchand’s 34th goal was the winning goal in overtime as the Boston Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Boston Bruins defenceman John-Michael Liles avoided suspension on Thursday for his illegal check to the head of forward Nikita Kucherov.

Liles caught the Tampa Bay Lightning star with an elbow to the head late in the first period of Boston’s 1-0 overtime victory Tuesday. There was no penalty called on the play, but Liles had a phone hearing with player safety Thursday.

Kucherov, Tampa leading point-getter, was visibly shaken following the collision but did return in the second period.

“I didn’t think I came up high with it. I thought I just tried to step into him. I don’t know if he was falling or if he ducked. Obviously he was down for a while,” Liles told Joe Haggerty of

“I’m not trying to hit him up high. Most guys, I can’t even reach their heads. Just trying to do my job at the blue line, to step up and just get a piece of him. I didn’t think my elbow came up high at all.”

The Bruins acquired Liles in deadline-day trade with the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for third- and fifth-round picks plus prospect Anthony Camara. The 35-year-old veteran has six goals and 17 points in 69 games this season.

Liles has never been suspended in the NHL. He was fined for kneeing Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth in 2006.

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