Already without center Zach Sill, who will serve the second game of his two-game suspension Saturday afternoon against the New York Rangers, the Capitals stand the chance of losing center Marcus Johansson to a suspension for his open-ice check on Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey Thursday night.
Johansson was whistled for an illegal check to the head 8:42 into the first period when he drove his shoulder into the chin of Hickey a split second after Hickey released the puck at the red line.
“I just tried to hit him,” Johansson said. “I went in with my shoulder. I don’t know if he had his head low or what. But I went in with my shoulder and that’s all I saw from my vantage point.”
Johansson, who has never been suspended and has just six penalty minutes this season, said he does not expect to face supplementary discipline.
Said Hickey, who left the game but later returned to take a bruising hit by Tom Wilson, said he had not yet seen a replay of the hit.
“He's an honest player,” Hickey said. “It's probably 50 percent me. I've got to get my head up.”
If Johansson is suspended, the Caps will either need to recall a forward from the Hershey Bears or press Mike Richards into action against the Rangers on Saturday after just one practice.
Caps coach Barry Trotz, who seemed confident Sill would not be suspended for his hit on Boston Adam McQuaid, said he does not expect disciplinary action on Johansson.
“I watched it,” Troitz said. “Their guy was putting the puck into the zone. Marcus came into him and got him with a shoulder. Marcus is not that type of player at all.
“It’s unfortunate, but (Hickey) was bent over when he shot it. His head came down a little bit and Marcus was trying to hit him through the crest (on his jersey). I didn’t think there was anything malice or anything vicious on it. It was just a hard hit.”