Avalanche’s Kadri suspended for hit vs Blues pending hearing

Colorado’s Nazem Kadri was suspended indefinitely Thursday pending a video hearing with NHL officials over his illegal check to the head of St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of the teams’ playoff series.

Offering a video hearing instead of a call allows the league’s department of player safety to suspend Kadri more than five games. Given his history, this suspension could sideline him for a significant chunk of the postseason for the Avalanche, one of the Stanley Cup favorites.

Kadri clipped Faulk in the head with his right elbow midway through the third period Wednesday night. Faulk left the game, and Kadri was thrown out with a match penalty.

“That’s a very dangerous hit,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “It’s got to be a suspension. It’s dangerous, he’s a repeat offender, it’s completely uncalled for. It’s awful to see.”

Kadri has three previous playoff suspensions on his record in addition to a four-game ban late in the regular season in 2015 for an illegal check to the head. Kadri was suspended four games for cross-checking in 2016, three games for boarding in 2018 and the rest of the first round for cross-checking in 2019.

“A guy like Kadri guy can’t control himself,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said. “In the playoffs he’s a repeat offender — bad hits, greasy hits, got a guy in a vulnerable position and he picks nothing but the head.”

Kadri’s previous transgressions were with Toronto, which traded him to Colorado in July 2019. midway through a $27 million, six-year contract. The Avalanche acquired Kadri to help their secondary scoring and add some grit to a skilled lineup led by Nathan MacKinnon.

That combination helped Colorado reach the second round of the 2020 bubble playoffs with Kadri as a dominant offensive force. He put up nine goals and nine assists in 15 games before goaltending injuries derailed the Avalanche.

Colorado leads the series 2-0 with Game 3 on Friday night in St. Louis (9:30 p.m. ET, USA Network).

CAPITALS at BRUINS, Boston leads series 2-1 (6:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

Bruins fans have a new foil in their series against the Capitals: former Boston captain Zdeno Chara, who left to join the Capitals to maintain a regular role in the NHL. Chara played his first playoff game in Boston as a visitor on Wednesday night after 73 with the Bruins.

It didn’t take long — not even seven minutes in — for the limited-capacity crowd to cheer against Chara when he took a slashing penalty.

“They’re loyal to the crest, and he’s wearing a different crest,” coach Bruce Cassidy said “He’s in a Caps crest now, and that’s the enemy.”

Newcomer Craig Smith, a free agent signing last offseason, scored the overtime winner for Boston after Washington goaltender Ilya Samsonov and defenseman Justin Schultz miscommunicated behind the net. Samsonov, who was making his NHL playoff debut in the aftermath of a two-week COVID protocol absence, was noticeably down.

“Sometimes we have a bad situation behind the net,” he said Thursday. “But we fix it this (time) and will be better next time, more communication with more talking. So we’ll (be) better.”

HURRICANES at PREDATORS, Carolina leads series 2-0 (7 p.m. ET, USA)

The Nashville Predators hope being back in “Smashville” can turn their series around before it’s too late. They’ve never been swept in franchise history, though the opening two games gave little indication they can hang with the Central Division champion Hurricanes.

Nashville went 0 for 7 on the power play in a 3-0 loss in Game 2 and are 0 for 10 in the series.

Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said he couldn’t say enough about his penalty killers, especially defensemen Brett Pesce who played 28 minutes and Brady Skjei who played 27 minutes, 44 seconds with defenseman Jaccob Slavin out with a lower-body injury.

“Just incredible really performances by those guys,” Brind’Amour said.

Nashville has expanded capacity inside Bridgestone Arena to 12,135. The Predators hope those loud fans can give them an edge they didn’t have in Carolina.

“Playing at Bridgestone in the playoffs is always fun,” Nashville captain Roman Josi said. “With the amount of fans we’re going to have, it’s definitely going to give us an extra boost. And yeah, it’s playoff hockey. There’s not a lot of margin for error.”

JETS at OILERS, Winnipeg leads series 1-0 (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

After all the talk about Winnipeg needing to contain league-leading scorer Connor McDavid and reigning MVP Leon Draisaitl, the Jets jumped out to a series lead thanks to goals by Tucker Poolman and Dominic Toninato.

Poolman played 39 games and Toninato two during the regular season, combining for a grand total of two assists.

“It’s really, really consistent with playoff hockey,” coach Paul Maurice said. “The skill in some ways cancels itself out and it’s the grit-and-grind guys who go to the net, put a puck to the net, stand in front of the net, it’s their game all year long and playoff hockey gets to become like their game and they’re good at it.”

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AP Sports Writers Pat Graham, Jimmy Golden and Teresa M. Walker contributed.

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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