The day after the NHL suspended Washington Capitals' forward Nicklas Backstrom for  cross-checking, his team said the penalty was unfair given that other incidents have gone unpunished.

Backstrom was banned one game and will miss Thursday night’s Game 4 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET) battle against the Boston Bruins for crossing-checking forward Rich Peverley in the face at the end of regulation play Tuesday.

The Capitals lost the game 4-3 and trail the defending Stanley Cup champions 2-1 in the first-round series.

"We disagree with the NHL’s decision to suspend Nicklas Backstrom," the Capitals' statement said.

"This has been a competitive and physical series, and we do not understand why a suspension was imposed in this case while other incidents in this series have not been reviewed. Our singular focus now is on Game 4, and we look forward to the energy that our great fans provide."

Washington coach Dale Hunter said Tuesday that Backstrom "was trying to protect his face" because Peverley had his stick raised. He also said that the Bruins have been going after the head of Backstrom, who returned to Washington's lineup March 31 after missing half the regular season because of a concussion.

So far, the NHL's head of discipline Brendan Shanahan has handed out a total of eight suspensions, with one pending for Phoenix Coyotes foward Raffi Torres on Friday.

But Shanahan has come under heavy criticism for handing Nashville Predators defenceman Shea Weber only a $2,500 US fine for ramming Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass portion of the boards last week.

With files from The Associated Press