Capitals' Tom Wilson gets three game ban from Stanley Cup playoffs

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PITTSBURGH-Capitals winger Tom Wilson has been suspended three playoff games by the NHL for an illegal check to the head of Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese in Game 3 of the teams' second-round series, the league announced Wednesday evening. More boos descended on Wilson.

Wilson is fifth on the Caps in postseason points with seven (two goals, five assists) in nine games. In issuing the suspension, the National Hockey League ruled that Wilson's left shoulder made initial and primary contact with Aston-Reese's head, and that Wilson could have avoided such a situation.

The decision was handed down following a hearing Wednesday afternoon with George Parros, head of the NHL's Department of Player Safety, who was in the Pittsburgh press box Tuesday night. Aston-Reese suffered a broken jaw and a concussion due to the hit. He was asked what he thought about the discipline levied against Wilson and gave a passionate treatise on the state of the game, using Wilson's sentence as a backdrop. In the eyes of the Penguins, Wilson was unquestionably guilty.

"Yes, his head gets hit, but there have been a million where I've gotten hit", Oshie said.

The Capitals were confident Wilson was innocent. "He's trying to make his hits clean. He's been taken away from us for a couple of games and we're fired up and we want to win a game for him". It's also what now has his team down a crucial forward for three games, and it's what will keep him under the spotlight with every one of his hits slowed down and analyzed frame by frame, intentions often assumed and judgment quickly dispatched. Capitals coach Barry Trotz still defended the play after the game, saying the hit was "shoulder-on-shoulder" and "both guys braced for it" before impact.

Wilson has a reputation, he is a physical player, and he plays with intensity.

Tom Wilson is receiving his first suspension of the post-season. Yes, the head gets hit.

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And then, with Parros in the building for Game 3, Wilson leveled Aston-Reese. "The night it happened, the league called and said it was fine".

Back in October, Wilson and General Manager Brian MacLellan met with Parros in Calgary, and Parros outlined tendencies for Wilson to avoid on certain hits.

With Wilson suspended for three games, Devante Smith-Pelly moved up from the third line to the first line for the Capitals at morning skate, joining Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

"He's a guy that hovers on that line", Connolly said. "That's why he is very effective".

Said defenseman Brooks Orpik: "It's just kind of simple, right?" The Capitals now lead the series 2-1.

On Tuesday night, Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak tried to demand retribution from Tom Wilson in an old-school way with his fists. However, Wilson does not take the ice for any NHL game with intent to injure other players, but he does begin every game with intent to play hockey in the physical manner in which it was meant to be played. "I've always prided myself on being an honest player". Yet, both players got three-games out. In fact, they've got a grand total of 20 regular season games under their belts. Obviously, the refs are going to be more prone to watch me versus maybe [Evgeny Kuznetsov] when he's finishing a check. I think the boys are fired up. "I'll just try to keep playing my game".

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