Carolina Hurricanes forward Scott Walker wasn't suspended for a punch that may have broken a bone in Boston defenceman Aaron Ward's face, but the NHL did hand him a fine.
Walker was fined $2,500 US by the league on Monday for the vicious right-hand punch that sent Ward to the ice and forced him to leave the game in the third period of the Bruin's 4-0 win on Sunday, Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.
Boston head coach Claude Julien said Monday morning that Ward was undergoing tests to determine whether he'd suffered a broken orbital bone. The Bruins are expecting the results later Monday.
Walker received a 10-minute game misconduct, five minutes for fighting and two minutes for instigating on the play.
Hurricanes general manager and president Jim Rutherford said the automatic suspension was rescinded during a hearing with the NHL's Colin Campbell after it was decided the hit was not a "sucker punch."
"We are satisfied with the league's ruling," Rutherford said in a release. "After our team received several punches throughout the series leading up to Game 5, it was a matter of time before one was going to be thrown back."
'Clearly brought on by them'
Rutherford added the incident was "clearly brought on by them" because of the number of shots the Hurricanes have taken from the Bruins in the series.
He said he's not worried about the possibility of Boston retaliating against Walker during Game 6.
"If that's the way the game's going to be played, that's the way we'll play the game," he said.
Walker said in a statement that he accepts the league's decision.
"Based on what was said on the ice as I was dropping my gloves, it was my understanding that I was engaged in an altercation," he said.
Before the NHL handed down its decision, Julien called for a review of the play to happen before Game 6 on Tuesday night.
"In reviewing what I saw, I just didn't like what happened … I just don't think there was any need for that," the coach said. "He sucker-punched him once coming into the scrum when [Ward] was involved with another player. And then he dropped his gloves and sucker-punched him.
'He had no intention of getting involved'
"I don't care what people say about, 'Ward should've protected himself.' He had no intention of getting involved," Julien added. "We asked our guys to stay composed and not fall into that trap, and he just did that. A guy with Walker's experience should know better than to sucker-punch a guy."
It happened in the final minutes of Game 5 when Ward and Carolina's Matt Cullen started shoving in front of Boston's net.
Walker then skated in and decked Ward.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice downplayed the incident, noting "Scott probably has sore knuckles."
When asked if the NHL might fine Walker, Maurice said, "I might have to sell my truck."
It was part of a physical game that saw the teams combine for 29 penalties and 83 penalty minutes.
That doesn't include the second-period slash Jussi Jokinen handed to Boston's Zdeno Chara that sent the Bruins' captain to the locker room. Jokinen wasn't penalized on the play.