Kings’ Drew Doughty suspended one game for illegal check to head

NHL
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The Los Angeles Kings are already down a game in their first-round playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights, and if they are going to even the series on Friday night they are going to have to do so without their top defenseman.

The NHL department of player safety announced on Thursday evening that Drew Doughty has been suspended one game for an illegal check to the head of Golden Knights forward William Carrier in Game 1.

The incident took place midway through the third period. Carrier briefly exited the game but quickly returned. Doughty was not penalized for the hit during the game.

Here is a look at the play, as well as the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.

Doughty’s absence for Game 2 is going to be significant for two reasons. First, he is probably the best shutdown, defensive defenseman in the NHL and is coming off another regular season that will get him plenty of Norris Trophy attention.

The other reason is the Kings are already dealing with an injury to defenseman Jake Muzzin as he missed the first game of the series and has not played since March 26. A depleted defense against a fast Vegas team that finished the regular season fourth in the NHL in goals scored when you are already down in the series is not a great situation to be in.

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.