Zetterberg won’t receive extra discipline for hit on Nikitin

DETROIT – Henrik Zetterberg knew the league would look further into his hit on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin midway through the third period Saturday night.

And upon further review, Zetterberg won’t face any extra discipline, according to Wings general manager Ken Holland.

The league ruled that there was no intended shove on Zetterberg’s part.

“(Brandon Shanahan) and the league are going to review this and see what they feel,” Zetterberg said after the game. “The rule is the rule, I made contact and he went down. Hopefully he’s OK, I didn’t mean to hurt him and we’ll have to wait and see.”

Zetterberg raced into the corner in the Blue Jackets’ zone with Nikitin a stride in front of him. As Nikitin slowed he began to get off balance. Zetterberg placed his hand on the Columbus defenseman’s back and he crashed hard into the boards, twisting his left ankle under him.

“There wasn’t (anything malicious), but still that’s the way they’re calling it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They’re trying to protect the D-men. I talked to (referee) Denny LaRue right away. I just said, ‘Denny, is that the way you’re calling it?’ and he said that’s the way. So why wouldn’t they (call it)? We’re trying to protect the players. It was an unfortunate play. I hope the guy’s not hurt.”

Zetterberg received a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct.

“It’s a dangerous play,” Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash said. “But the whole league knows that (Zetterberg) is not that kind of a player. I thought he was going for the puck. I don’t think Zetterberg is that kind of player.”

The Wings killed off the five-minute penalty and eventually beat the Blue Jackets in a shootout, 3-2 Saturday night.

“It’s that danger area, where guys are going into the boards and at full speed when guys are moving it’s dangerous,” Columbus coach Todd Richards said. “And that’s really where the danger comes. It’s not the physical hit. It’s throwing a guy off-balance, which I think in looking at it … the hand on the back throws him off-balance a little bit. The game is moving so fast now that, again, just a little bit here or there and you’re going into the boards at full speed.”

It was Zetterberg’s first major penalty in ejection in 634 career games.

Brendan Smith is the only Wing to receive any extra discipline by the league this season for a hit on Chicago’s Ben Smith in the preseason.

Brendan Smith was suspended the final three preseason games and then the first five games of the regular season. Smith was also suspended three games by the American Hockey League because of the ruling the NHL handed down.


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