SUNRISE — Lightning forward Pat Maroon has been suspended one game for unsportsmanlike conduct due to his actions in the final minutes of Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Panthers on Saturday, the league announced.
With just more than six minutes remaining in the game, Maroon had the puck in the corner when Florida’s Brandon Montour slid his stick between Maroon’s legs and lifted it up into his groin, prompting Maroon to confront Montour face to face before they were separated by officials.
As the players were pulled apart, they continued to jaw at each other. While Maroon was escorted off the ice, he pulled away from the linesman, dropped his gloves and went after Montour, making contact with Montour’s face when his bare hand. The players engaged and quickly went to the ground.
“While we agree with Maroon’s assertion that he does not violently strike Montour, it is the totality of the circumstances that causes this play to rise to the level of supplemental discipline,” the Department of Player Safety said in its suspension announcement. “This incident occurs late in the game with the score out of reach. Maroon chooses to unnecessarily escalate the situation well after having been successfully separated a considerable distance by the linesman. At this point, he decides to drop his gloves and reaches through the other linesman to get to the restrained Montour.”
According to the league, Maroon was in violation of Rule 46.5, which states:
“Any player who persists in continuing or attempting to continue a fight or altercation after he has been ordered by the Referee to stop, or who resists a linesman in the discharge of his duties shall, at the discretion of the referee, incur a misconduct or game misconduct penalty in addition to any penalties imposed.”
Earlier in the game, Montour pulled Lightning center Yanni Gourde’s jersey over his head.
There were five fighting majors and 10 major misconducts in the game. After being separated by a linesman a second time, Maroon gestured at the Panthers’ bench and broke free of the linesman again to continue to jaw at the Florida bench.
“Players must be respectful of the instructions of the on-ice officials and be aware that actions taken late in games for the purpose of message sending or retribution will be viewed in the context of the game situation when we assess supplemental discipline,” the Department of Player Safety said.
Maroon has no relevant discipline history — he previously had been suspended once for interference over his 568-game NHL career in January 2018 — which was taken into account when deciding on the one-game suspension.
Montour received a slashing penalty on the play and a 10-minute game misconduct. He was also fined $5,000 by the league.
The Lightning end the regular season Monday against Florida before the teams meet in he first round of the playoffs. They could already be without starting defensemen Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta, who all missed Saturday’s game with injuries.
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