LAS VEGAS — Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty was suspended for one game Thursday for an illegal check to the head of Vegas Golden Knights forward William Carrier during Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.
"I thought it was a bad hit, but it’s not for me to decide," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said after Vegas’ 1-0 victory Wednesday night. "The referee didn’t think it was a penalty but I’m sure people will look at that hit and make a decision on it."
Doughty will miss Game 2 on Friday night in Las Vegas. He delivered the blow at 9:58 of the third period, sending Carrier to the locker room for the remainder of the game.
"I thought you had two teams that played a real good hard, honest game," Los Angeles coach John Stevens said following his team’s practice on Thursday. "That was my interpretation. I think both teams upped their intensity and both teams understand the importance of the battle on the puck and there’s usually some kind of physical confrontation that comes from that."
Golden Knights enforcer Ryan Reaves, who was a healthy scratch for Game 1, didn’t agree with the hit.
"Obviously, it’s a hit to the head, it was pretty blatant," Reaves said. "I don’t know if the ref maybe had a bad angle on it, but I’m sure the league will deal with it the way they need to. You never need to hit a guy in the jaw. … If I’m in that game I’d probably try and go do something about it. Maybe I can calm that situation down."
Vegas wing James Neal, who played with defending Western Conference champion Nashville last season, said the Golden Knights knew things could get heated against the Kings.
"When you play teams like L.A., a heavy team, it’s going to be a physical game," Neal said. "We knew what to expect, especially being Game 1 of the playoffs. Everything’s ramped up a little bit extra, guys are out there going a little quicker, it was definitely physical."
And while the Kings outhit Vegas, 68-59, Stevens scoffed at the notion Game 1 was an overly physical game.
"I think the teams played hard, I’m not sure where that number comes from, but I don’t think anybody would be playing tomorrow if those numbers were accurate," Stevens said. "I don’t want to sound disrespectful when I say this, but sometimes I don’t even know where they’re situated when they are marking those stats. There’s such a variety in the way those are gauged building to building that we usually go and look at our own stats."
Said Kings wing Dustin Brown: "It was a physical game, (but) I don’t think there was nearly as many hits as the stats credited. Some buildings you can kill a guy and not get credit for a hit."