Panthers’ Kulikov crushes Rangers’ Wennberg, avoids five-minute major

Florida Panthers defenceman Dmitry Kulikov was assessed a minor penalty for interference after his hit on New York Rangers forward Alex Wennberg and a review for a potential major penalty.

For a moment, it looked like the Florida Panthers might be down a man for the remainder of Game 2.

Panthers defenceman Dmitry Kulikov absolutely crushed New York Rangers centre Alex Wennberg with a huge open-ice hit midway through the first period and play was immediately blown dead on Friday in the Eastern Conference Final.

The referees sent Kulikov to the penalty box and announced that the hit was being reviewed for a five-minute major as it appeared he may have hit Wennberg in the head area.

However, after the review, the penalty was downgraded to just a two-minute minor for interference. If the five-minute major was assessed, Kulikov would’ve also received a game misconduct and been done for the night.

Per Rule 56.4 of the NHL rulebook, the referees may assess a major penalty on an interference call “based on the degree of violence, to a player guilty of
interfering with an opponent.”

The hit was also likely reviewed for a check to the head, but per Rule 48.1, the officials could have determined that Kulikov’s hit was made through the body with unavoidable contact with the head, and the head was not “picked as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward.”

Wennberg would briefly leave the game, but returned to the bench within minutes.

The Rangers did not score on the two-minute penalty assessed to Kulikov.

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