Washington Capitals' Marcus Johansson (90) is helped by a trainer as John Carlson (74) watches during the first period of Game 3 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar
May 03, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) The Penguins will be without Kris Letang for Game 4 against Washington after the NHL suspended him one game Tuesday after interfering with Washington's Marcus Johansson early in Pittsburgh's 3-2 win over the Capitals on Monday night.

The NHL Department of Player Safety ruled that Letang made ''significant head contact'' on Johansson well after the Capitals forward had released the puck during a sequence in the first period.

Johansson was carrying the puck into the Pittsburgh zone when he made a pass to the boards as four Penguins converged on him.

Letang drilled Johansson in the upper body well after the puck was gone, Letang's shoulder making contact with Johansson's chest and chin.

The forward briefly left the game before returning. Letang received a minor penalty for interference following the play and issued the suspension after a brief hearing on Tuesday.

The league pointed out because Johansson was not in possession of the puck, he was not eligible to be checked on the play. The NHL stopped short, however, of describing the hit as ''charging,'' which could have carried stiffer discipline.

Letang did leave his feet while finishing the check, but the league attributed that to the force of the collision. The NHL also said ''the head was not the main point of contact.''

Johansson underwent the NHL's concussion protocol before returning to the game, though he did complain of some neck pain after the Capitals fell behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Washington held the forward out of practice on Tuesday. Coach Barry Trotz said Johansson will be evaluated on Wednesday.

Letang insisted he had no intention of hurting Johansson.

''I saw him coming full speed I tried to step up in the middle,'' Letang said. ''Things happen fast.''

The suspension is the second in as many games for a player in the contentious series between the rivals. Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik was suspended three games after taking aim at Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta's head in Game 2.

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