Hurricanes’ Ferland handed match penalty for debatable head shot

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The Carolina Hurricanes can hardly afford to lose Micheal Ferland, but that might be the reality they’re living after a bad hit got him ejected from Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Saturday.

Trailing 2-1 to the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals in the second period — and down 1-0 in the best-of-7 series — the Hurricanes forward made his way across the ice to deliver a thundering hit on Capitals forward Nic Dowd, who was reaching for a puck with Ferland tried to obliterate him.

This is where the debate will begin.

Ferland was assessed a match penalty after he appeared to catch Dowd in the head after taking the predatory route to find him entering the Hurricanes zone. That’s how it looked in real time and the basis for the decision to punt Ferland form the game.

Dowd, in turn, left the game to enter concussion protocol but returned before the period ended.

The other half of the debate comes when you slow down the video. Was the initial point of contact to the head? That comes into question upon replay. Dowd was in a vulnerable spot reaching for the puck that had got away from him. He was defenseless on the play and Ferland blew him up anyway but the match penalty for the headshot may be rescinded based on the replay showing that the principle point of contact may not have been the head at all.

The Capitals failed to find the back of the net on their extended power play, which ended early thanks to a T.J. Oshie hooking call.

Ferland scored 17 goals and had 40 points this season, good for a fourth place on the team but hadn’t recorded a point in two and a bit playoff games so far. Dowd doesn’t play many minutes (he played just 6:40 in Game 1) but depth is key in the playoffs. In any case, it was good to see he wasn’t concussed on the play.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, too.

In a head shot that was clearly not debatable, Dougie Hamilton extended his elbow into the noggin of Kuznetsov’s in the same frame. Hamilton was assesed a two-minute minor for elbowing on the play, but given how he threw that elbow into the head, there might be some supplemental discipline waiting for him, too.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck