Milan Lucic has been suspended for one game for the match penalty he received in a 5-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night. Lucic will miss Game 3 against the Canadiens Monday at the Bell Centre.
Lucic received the penalty in Game 2 after he checked Maxim Lapierre in the head with his stick in front of Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak with 4:32 remaining in Game 2.
“While it is unclear whether Lucic’s glove or stick makes contact with Lapierre, what is clear is that he delivered a reckless and forceful blow to the head of his opponent,” said NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell in a statement.
Byron Bitz, a healthy scratch in Games 1 and 2, will be in the lineup for Game 3. Bitz will most likely skate with Shawn Thornton and Stephane Yelle on the fourth line. Blake Wheeler, who was on the fourth line for the first two games, should take Lucic’s spot on the third line.
“He’s a big guy who’s been strong along the walls,” Claude Julien said of Bitz this morning. “He’s very reliable. Probably one of our most reliable along the wall in our own end at getting pucks out or protecting it. He’s had some scoring opportunities. He’s a young guy that we see a bright future in. Right now, it’s a little bit of experience that he might get a chance to get, depending on what happens [with Lucic]. He’s a guy that once we called him up, he never went back, because he’s another one of those guys that’d said, ‘I think I belong here and I’m going to show you guys.’ He forced our hand.”