Avalanche’s Makar suspended for Game 5 at home after interference on Kraken’s McCann

Colorado Avalanche star defenceman Cale Makar was suspended one game by the NHL on Tuesday for his hit on Seattle’s Jared McCann in the first period of a Game 4 loss to the Kraken.

Makar, last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP, will be a spectator for Game 5 on Wednesday night with the series tied 2-2. The NHL’s department of player safety announced the suspension after a hearing with Makar.

Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol said after the Kraken’s 3-2 overtime win Monday night McCann would miss Game 5 and likely be out longer. He did not specify McCann’s injury.

In a video announcing the suspension, the league called it an improper “body check to a vulnerable player.”

“Makar finishes this hit well outside the allowable window to finish a check,” the league said. “In addition, it is clear that Makar knows McCann is not in possession of the puck when he decides to deliver this hit.”

The suspension is another blow for the Avalanche, who played the past two games without forward Valeri Nichushkin for personal reasons and have been beset by key injuries for much of the season.

Makar has led Colorado in ice time in the series, averaging 25 minutes 15 seconds per game and he played nearly 27 minutes Monday night. He has one goal and three points through the first four games.

Denied on breakaway attempt

Makar has no history of being fined or suspended since making his NHL debut in 2019.

The hit happened midway through the first period as McCann had a short-handed breakaway attempt. His shot was saved by Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev with the puck going over the glass into the netting.

McCann appeared unprepared for the hit from Makar, which left Seattle’s leading scorer from the regular season on the ice for several minutes and needed help to get to the bench.

Makar, a Calgary native, said he was unaware where the puck was when he made the hit. Makar was originally given a five-minute major penalty but it was reduce to a two-minute minor for interference after a review.

“It’s unfortunate. I never want to injure guys. Hopefully he’s all right,” Makar said after the game. “I didn’t feel like I tried to finish him that hard, but I feel like if I was in that scenario they would have done the exact same thing. I’m not trying to hurt anybody.”

It is the second suspension of these playoffs. Toronto’s Michael Bunting was given three games for an illegal check to the head of Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak in the teams’ series opener. Cernak remains out for Game 5 on Thursday night, while Bunting is eligible to return.

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