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Bruins’ Nick Ritchie not suspended for ‘dirty’ hit on Lightning’s Yanni Gourde

Also, why the hit might be different from Nikita Kucherov’s against the Blue Jackets in last year’s playoffs that resulted in a suspension.
Lightning forward Yanni Gourde lies on the ice after a hit from Boston's Nick Ritchie during the second period of Game 4 on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Toronto. Gourde eventually skated off the ice on his own but did not return until the third period.
Lightning forward Yanni Gourde lies on the ice after a hit from Boston's Nick Ritchie during the second period of Game 4 on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Toronto. Gourde eventually skated off the ice on his own but did not return until the third period. [ NBC ]
Published Aug. 30, 2020
Updated Aug. 31, 2020

Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow was outspoken Sunday morning about why he took a five-minute major penalty fighting with Nick Ritchie during Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series: The Bruins forward’s hit on Lightning forward Yanni Gourde was “dirty.”

“It was late; it was from behind,” Goodrow said of Ritchie’s hit during the second period Saturday. “I think the puck had left (Gourde’s) stick (for) so long ago that most guys on the ice didn’t even see the hit because they’re following the puck up the ice. I thought (the hit) was worthy of a major penalty.”

Gourde, who had cleared the puck down the ice, was not expecting Ritchie’s shoulder-to-back hit that sent him flying shoulder-first into the boards, followed by hard contact with his head.

Gourde was attended to by head athletic trainer Tom Mulligan before leaving for the remainder of the period. He was able to return for the third period and play.

Meanwhile, Ritchie got a five-minute boarding major, on which the Lightning got a goal in their 3-1 win.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety reviews all questionable hits. On Sunday, it declined to hold a hearing for Ritchie for possible supplemental discipline.

Why Ritchie wasn’t suspended

Jon Cooper said after Saturday’s win that Ritchie deserved a five-minute major. And while the Lightning coach said he thought the league might review the play for additional discipline, he thought it was unlikely to end in a suspension for Ritchie.

Cooper said that if he was reviewing the play from an outside perspective, he would note that Ritchie served a five-minute major and Gourde was able to return for the third period.

Related: Who knew the Lightning could play defense like this?

In this year’s Lightning-Blue Jackets series, the Department of Player Safety chose not to enact supplemental discipline against Columbus forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nick Foligno after their respective hits on Lightning forward Alex Killorn and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev during the third period of Game 4.

Killorn fell hard into the boards after Dubois pushed him in the back behind the Lightning goal. Dubois was assessed a boarding penalty.

Later in the period, Sergachev was rammed into the glass from behind as he and Foligno chased the puck behind Tampa Bay’s net. No penalty was called.

Related: NHL’s pregame draws attention to racial injustice

Why is Ritchie’s hit different from Kucherov’s last year vs. Blue Jackets?

Lightning fans likely remember forward Nikita Kucherov’s boarding hit against Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara during Game 2 of last year’s series that resulted in a one-game suspension.

Kucherov tripped Nutivaara with his stick, then proceeded to hit him as he tried to get up. A shot to Nutivaara’s head by Kucherov with his shoulder sent Nutivaara into the boards.

Kucherov was called for a tripping minor, boarding major and game misconduct. He got a one-game suspension from the Department of Player Safety.

Related: Lightning-Bruins Game 4 report card: Tampa Bay’s top line better than perfect

The difference between Kucherov’s and Ritchie’s hits is likely how they played out.

Kucherov’s came while Nutivaara was down, making shoulder-to-head contact that sent the defenseman into the boards.

Ritchie’s hit was from behind, but the Bruins forward’s contact on Gourde was shoulder to shoulder and made in the course of play rather than on a player not on his feet.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy disagreed with Ritchie being penalized Saturday, citing Lightning forward Cedric Paquette delivering a similar hit on Boston forward Karson Kuhlman in the first period and not being penalized.

The difference on the Paquette hit was he made shoulder-to-shoulder contact with Kuhlman from the side, not from behind. Kuhlman hit the boards shoulder first, followed by his head contacting the boards.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.