Penguins notebook: Letang calls high stick an accident, avoids NHL punishment
NEW YORK — Kris Letang said it was an accident when his stick whacked Viktor Stalberg in the face in the third period of Game 3 on Tuesday night, knocking out three of the New York Rangers forward’s teeth.
The NHL did not determine otherwise, as it decided not to discipline the Penguins defenseman for the incident, which failed to garner a penalty in the game.
While being hit by Dominic Moore behind the Penguins net, Letang delivered a two-handed swing to Stalberg’s face. Stalberg finished the game, playing two more shifts after the incident.
“I think it was a fast play,” Letang said. “My stick was up, and I got hit at the same time. I was coming forward. Unfortunately, I hit him, and he was bleeding. Not in a million years I would try to hit somebody in the face like that.”
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan backed his player.
“It’s unfortunate that his stick got up, but for me, there wasn’t any sort of intent,” Sullivan said.
New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault suspected a more devious motive but came to terms with the league’s ruling.
“We might feel it seems deliberate,” he said. “The NHL doesn’t see it that way, and the referees on the ice at that time didn’t see it that way so just gotta deal with it and focus on the next game.”
• Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) missed practice for a second straight day, but Sullivan described the goalie’s condition as status quo. “Just part of the process that he’s going through,” Sullivan said.
• Even with Fleury still recovering, the Penguins on Wednesday returned rookie Tristan Jarry to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Jarry served as a backup to Jeff Zatkoff in Games 1 and 2 but never appeared in a game. He is not expected to play in Game 1 of the Baby Pens’ American Hockey League playoff series with Providence on Wednesday but likely will start Game 2 on Thursday, according to The Citizens’ Voice.
• While New York Jets center Nick Mangold caught the media’s attention Tuesday night when, clad in a Rangers jersey, he heckled the Penguins from just a few rows behind their bench, he failed to distract those involved with the game. “I really don’t pay attention to it, to be honest,” Sullivan said. “Our focus is on the hockey game, not what goes on outside the glass.”