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USATSI

Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog will serve a two-game suspension for boarding Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach in Wednesday’s season-opener, the NHL‘s Department of Player Safety announced on Thursday. Landeskog’s absence will further thin an Avalanche front line missing center Nathan MacKinnon

Dach fell to a knee — a defenseless position, according to the NHL’s ruling — during the game’s third period, and Landeskog quickly skated by to slam him into the wall near center-ice. The on-ice officials gave Landeskog a two-minute boarding penalty, and Dach finished the game. Landeskog recorded a goal and an assist while Dach led Chicago with five shots on goal. 

“Landeskog has enough time to recognize the situation his opponent is in,” the NHL said in its ruling. “And rather than avoiding contact or minimizing the force of the hit, chooses to drive the vulnerable Dach into the wall with substantial force. It is the combination of the defenseless position Dach is in, the player’s dangerous distance to the board at the time of contact, and the speed and force of the hit that caused it to rise to the level of supplemental discipline.” 

Landeskog has faced plenty of NHL punishment before. In 2015, the 28-year-old Swede served a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head, and he served three- and four-game suspensions for cross-checking in 2016 and 2017, respectively. 

The Avalanche could potentially be without its longtime captain in Landeskog and a two-time All-Star in MacKinnon over the next two games. MacKinnon, 26, tested positive for COVID-19 days before the season and is currently in protocol. Colorado’s next two matchups are with the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.  

Landeskog is in the first year of an eight-year, $56 million contract.