Canadiens' Brandon Prust suspended for jaw-breaking hit 0
Rangers forward Derek Stepan suffered a broken jaw after an open-ice hit by Canadiens forward Brandon Prust during the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final in New York on Thursday, May 22, 2014. (Ben Pelosse/QMI Agency)
The Eastern Conference final got nasty on Thursday night and New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan has a broken jaw to prove it.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault revealed that the open-ice hit by Montreal’s Brandon Prust caused the injury and that Stepan was undergoing surgery to repair it on Friday.
Prust was given a two-game suspension for the hit Friday afternoon after a telephone hearing with the NHL's department of player safety.
Vigneault was livid about the hit and was essentially making his pitch for a suspension to Prust when the league disciplinary department reviews the play.
“The incident, four referees missed the call,” Vigneault said. “(It was a) late hit, everything that you want to get out of the game.
“What saddens me about the hit is if the call is made on the ice, we’re on a five-minute power play.”
Stepan had X-rays after the hit which didn’t reveal anything and he returned to the game. But after seeing a specialist on Friday, he was diagnosed with a broken jaw.
The league will hold a hearing into the incident later on Friday.
While Stepan is likely to be out of action for Game 4 on Sunday, the Rangers also expect to be without forward Daniel Carcillo who is facing a potentially lengthy suspension for shoving a linesman during Thursday’s contest.
The loss of Stepan will be a big one for the Rangers, who hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. With 11 points in 17 games, he is second only to Martin St. Louis in team scoring.