Evgeni Malkin has been suspended four games without pay for cross-checking Nashville’s Mark Borowiecki in the face, a significant blow to the Pittsburgh Penguins as they hope to hold on to their playoff position.

Malkin will miss upcoming games against the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins after the NHL’s department of player safety announced the suspension Monday following a disciplinary hearing. In a video explaining the suspension, the league called Malkin’s cross-check “retaliatory and aggressive.”

Malkin was initially given only a four-minute double-minor penalty after striking Borowiecki in the mouth with his stick at the end of the second period Sunday.

“It’s an emotional game out there,” coach Mike Sullivan told reporters after the game. “It’s physical, and sometimes that stuff happens. It was a physical game, especially at the net fronts in those areas where that took place.


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