Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett was suspended for three games on Sunday for an illegal check to the head on Montreal Canadiens forward Cedric Paquette.
Bennett administered a high hit that caused Paquette to depart Saturday’s game with a neck injury. Paquette returned in the second period but did not play in the third.
The ruling came down following a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, which noted in an explanation video Sunday evening that the hit was avoidable.
“Bennett has the time and space to deliver a legal check that hits through Paquette’s near shoulder and core,” a Department of Player Safety official said in the video. “His chosen angle of approach, however, forces him to cut across and in front of the body and make the head the main point of contact.”
WATCH | Bennett suspended 3 games for hit on Paquette:
The 25-year-old Bennett is also a repeat offender, having received a one-game suspension for boarding last May.
Bennett, who was not penalized for the hit, recorded two goals in Florida’s 5-2 win over Montreal in Sunrise, Fla.
Bennett’s 11 goals are one shy of the team lead, shared by Anthony Duclair and captain Aleksander Barkov. He also has recorded six assists in 26 games this season.
Now he will miss Florida’s next three games: Tuesday versus Calgary, Thursday at Dallas and Saturday at Carolina.
Bennett has 172 points (84 goals, 88 assists) in 438 career games with the Flames and Panthers after being selected by Calgary with the fourth overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft.