New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich was suspended for one game for high-sticking Anthony Mantha of the Washington Capitals in the face, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced Thursday.
Buchnevich received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for his actions in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Capitals. He will also forfeit $28,017.24 in pay as part of the discipline.
The sequence in the second period began when Buchnevich delivered a hard hit to Mantha, who then tapped the back of Buchnevich's legs with his stick multiple times. When play was whistled to a stop with 15:21 remaining in the stanza, Mantha skated toward Buchnevich, who had his stick high and smacked it into the face of Mantha.
"While we agree that Buchnevich's actions are defensive in nature, players are not excused from following league rules because of the actions of their opponent," the NHL video of the play states. "While Mantha's actions may have been provocative, Buchnevich is not permitted to respond to that provocation with a reckless and forceful strike directly to the face of his opponent."
Tensions were high in Wednesday's game due to an incident on Monday in which Washington's Tom Wilson was fined the maximum $5,000 but not suspended. The Capitals won that game 6-3.
Wilson drew the fine for punching Buchnevich in the back of the head but he wasn't disciplined for slamming Rangers star Artemi Panarin to the ice as part of that incident. Panarin sustained a season-ending lower-body injury.
The Rangers sharply criticized the NHL's decision in a statement, terming Wilson's actions as a "horrifying act of violence" and saying NHL head of player safety George Parros was "unfit to continue in his current role."
On Thursday, the NHL fined the organization $250,000 for the public criticism of Parros.
"Public comments of the nature issued by the Rangers that were personal in nature and demeaning of a League executive will not be tolerated," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in the release.
"While we don't expect our Clubs to agree with every decision rendered by the Department of Player Safety, the extent to which the Rangers expressed their disagreement was unacceptable."
--Field Level Media