The Boston Bruins will have a well-rested leading scorer to begin the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Left-winger Brad Marchand on Thursday was suspended two games, so he'll miss the NHL team's final regular-season contests against Ottawa on Thursday and Saturday versus Washington.
Marchand, whom the league has now disciplined five times in the past three seasons, earned a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for spearing Tampa Bay defenceman Jake Dotchin in the groin with 40 seconds left in the first period of Boston's 4-0 win on Tuesday.
The play began with Marchand battling in front of the net with Dotchin, who whacked the Bruins' superpest with his stick, more the routine type of stick work that is common in games. Marchand then administered a backhanded shot of his own, sending Dotchin to the ice writhing in pain.
The 23-year-old rookie blue-liner from Cambridge, Ont., left the ice but later returned.
"It was an undisciplined penalty. There's no question about that," Marchand, who was most recently barred from play for three games after clipping Ottawa defenceman Mark Borowiecki on Dec. 29, 2015, told reporters. He then sat out the 2016 Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium against the Montreal Canadiens.
Brad Marchand suspensions
- March 2011: 2 games for elbowing Columbus' R.J. Umberger in the head
- January 2012: 5 games for clipping Sami Salo
- January 2015: 2 games for slew-footing New Rangers forward Derick Brassard
- December 2015: 3 games for clipping Ottawa defenceman Mark Borowiecki
- April 2017: 2 games for spearing Tampa defenceman Jake Dotchin
"It could have cost the team a very important game," said Marchand of Tuesday's incident. "But the guys did a great job of rallying and having a huge game."
Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy agreed with his player that the spear was undisciplined.
"We want all our players on the ice from start to finish, it's that simple," he said. "I'll have a talk with Brad. He's got to be more responsible."
Earlier this season, Marchand avoided suspension for dangerous trips to defencemen Niklas Kronwall of Detroit and Tampa Bay's Anton Stralman.
According to teammate David Pastrnak, Marchand, 28, didn't show intent in his latest incident.
"That stuff happens," said Pastrnak. "That's the same way like when you high stick someone. The stick jumps up there and you don't mean to do it. It's unfortunate."
Sitting out the final two games of the regular season will prevent Marchand from becoming the first Boston player to score 40 goals since Glen Murray in 2003. Marchand entered Thursday fourth in NHL scoring with career highs in goals (39), assists (46) and points (85).