Vancouver Canucks defenceman Alex Edler was suspended two games by the NHL on Friday for a charging incident against the Phoenix Coyotes the previous night.

The NHL's department of player safety announced the penalty on the league's official website.

Edler knocked Coyotes goalie Mike Smith down behind the net at 18:17 of the second period of Vancouver's 2-1 win on Thursday night when the goalie was playing the puck. Edler was assessed a five-minute major penalty on the play.

Smith finished the second period, but did not return for the third frame.

"Rather than attempt to minimize or avoid contact, Edler takes a direct route through Smith, making contact with his head," NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan said in a video explanation.

Shanahan also cited Rule 42 (charging), one that states "a goalkeeper is not 'fair game' just because he is outside the goal crease area."

He also asserted he didn't think the 26-year-old native of Sweden intentionally injured the Coyotes netminder.

"Again, while we agree that Edler has no malicious intent on this play, we believe he does not make any effort to minimize or avoid contact," Shanahan said.

He also cited that the six-foot-three, 215-pound blue-liner has no prior disciplinary history in the NHL.

Another hit occurring Thursday night that drew attention was New York Rangers sniper Rick Nash's levelling of Florida Panthers winger Tomas Kopecky.

Nash nailed Kopecky with just over five minutes left in New York's 3-1 loss, catching the Panthers winger — who was not injured on the play — with his back turned and drilling him with what appeared to be a high hit.

Brendan Shanahan, the head of the NHL's department of player safety, released a video statement Friday explaining his decision to let Nash go unpunished.

"Although we do not think this was a legal hit, we also believe it does not rise to the level of supplemental discipline," said Shanahan. "As the video shows, Kopecky turns just prior to Nash making contact which contributes to the impact of the hit.

"Furthermore, Nash does not target Kopecky's head nor is it the principle point of contact."

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul was handed a two-game ban on Thursday for an illegal hit to the head of Tampa Bay defenceman Victor Hedman.

Edler will forfeit $35,135.14 US in salary based on the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, with that money going to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

He will be forced to sit out games against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night and the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.