NHL

Sharks' Karlsson to sit 2 games for illegal check to head

San Jose Sharks defenceman Erik Karlsson will get an extended Christmas break after the NHL handed him a two-game suspension Sunday for an illegal check to the head of Los Angeles forward Austin Wagner in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss.

Kings forward Austin Wagner on receiving end of hit in Saturday's 3-2 OT victory

The NHL on Sunday suspended Sharks defenceman Erik Karlsson two games for an illegal check to the head of Kings forward Austin Wagner in Saturday's game. He will be eligible to play Dec. 29 at Edmonton. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

San Jose Sharks defenceman Erik Karlsson will get an extended Christmas break after the NHL handed him a two-game suspension Sunday for an illegal check to the head of Los Angeles forward Austin Wagner in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss.

Karlsson wasn't penalized on the play that occurred in the neutral zone at 2:35 of the second period. Wagner was spun around, hit the ice and was wobbly as he skated to the bench. He didn't return to the game after suffering an upper-body injury.

Watch/listen to the NHL's explanation for suspending Karlsson:

"It's one of those plays [where] I'm closing [the] gap, and he skates into me," Karlsson told reporters after the game. "I don't really lean into him, I'm in his lane, and it's a shoulder-to-shoulder hit.

"Unfortunately, he went down hard, and he didn't come back, and I hope he's OK. But at the end of the day, it's a hockey play."

Karlsson will miss Sunday evening's game against the visiting Arizona Coyotes and a Dec. 27 home contest versus Anaheim. He'll forfeit $69,892.48 in salary and is eligible to play again Dec. 29 at Edmonton.

No NHL games are scheduled Dec. 24-26.

8-game points streak

Before Sunday, Karlsson had a clean history on supplemental discipline, though the NHL did fine the former Ottawa Senators blue-liner $2,500 in March 2012 for a slash against Florida's Sean Bergenheim.

Following a mid-September trade from Ottawa, Karlsson has collected points in each of his past eight games, including a pair of two-point efforts to give the 28-year-old 26 points in 37 contests.

A two-time recipient of the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman, he is in the final year of a seven-year, $45.5 million contract and would become a free agent July 1 if not signed. 

The 19-12-6 Sharks have dropped two in a row but entered play Sunday in second place in the Pacific Division, three points behind Calgary.

About the Author

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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