Colorado Avalanche lose center Nazem Kadri for rest of series after 'most dangerous play in hockey'

ByGREG WYSHYNSKI via via logo
June 5, 2022, 9:19 AM

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri left Game 3 of the Western Conference finals with an injury after a hit from behind by Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane on Saturday night.

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Kadri will be out for the series, "if not longer." Colorado defeated the Oilers 4-2 to take a 3-0 series lead.

Kane was given a five-minute major for boarding after cross-checking Kadri from behind into the end boards just 1:04 into the matchup, the Oilers' first home game of the series. Kadri was trying to control the puck in the Oilers' zone. Kane put his stick across Kadri's jersey numbers and shoved him into the boards.

"I was just coming around on the backcheck. Puck went wide, kind of dribbled into the corner. I know he likes to reverse it," Kane said. "I was just trying get a bump on him. That's all I did. Unfortunately, he went into the boards awkwardly and hurt his hands. But that was unfortunate."

Video review confirmed a five-minute major penalty for boarding, which the Oilers successful killed off in the first period. Kadri left the ice after just one shift and did not return to the game.

"The hit is the most dangerous play in hockey," Bednar said. "It puts him in headfirst from behind, 8 feet off the boards. I'll leave it at that."

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said it's the kind of hit that "gives you chills down your spine" when players see it.

"You're taught from a young age that you don't do that. Especially in that distance from the boards," he said. "It's a dangerous play. I'm sure [the NHL] will take a look at it."

The loss of Kadri is significant. The veteran had 14 points in the team's first 12 postseason games, which was tied for fourth on the high-powered Avalanche before Saturday. That number includes six goals. J.T. Compher moved up to center the line with Mikko Rantanen and Artturi Lehkonen and scored the game-winning goal in the third period.

Bednar said replacing Kadri will be done "by committee" for the rest of the series. "That's how big of a player he is for us. Could be one guy one night, could be a different guy the next," he said. "Obviously, it's a huge loss. But it's out of our control."

Under NHL rules, Kane could have been assessed a match penalty if there deliberate intent to injure on the play, or he could have been assessed a game-misconduct penalty if the foul resulted in an injury "to the face or head of an opponent." The on-ice officials felt Kane's actions didn't rise to either standard.

If the incident rises to the level of supplemental discipline from the NHL Department of Player Safety, Kane's last infraction was a $5,000 fine for kneeing Sean Durzi of the Los Angeles Kings. He was last suspended in February 2020, getting three games for elbowing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk.

Kane's 21-game suspension in September for violating the NHL/NHLPA COVID-19 protocol would not factor into any suspension for an on-ice incident.

With the road win, Colorado improved to 11-2 this postseason.

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