WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals could be without star center Nicklas Backstrom for Game 4 of their first-round series against the Boston Bruins after Backstrom cross-checked Bruins forward Rich Peverley in the face following the final buzzer in Boston's Game 3 victory Monday night.
Backstrom received a match penalty for the move, and the NHL rule book states that any player receiving a match penalty will be automatically suspended from further competition until the commissioner has ruled on the issue.
"The only thing that's disappointing for me personally is that this is the third time in three games our player has been cross-checked in the face. ... You hope that those things don't get out of hand," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Somebody else, not us, has to deal with that."
Capitals coach Dale Hunter said he expects Backstrom's match penalty to be reviewed and rescinded, but any length of absence for Backstrom could be devastating for a Capitals team playing arguably its best hockey of the year.
Backstrom, who missed 40 games this season with a concussion, scored the game-winning goal for Washington in double overtime in Game 2.
Boston forward Brad Marchand also dealt with unfortunate stick-work from a Capital forward. The third-year winger was slashed in the groin area by Washington's Jason Chimera during a scrum in front of Boston's net early in the third period.
Marchand immediately fell to the ice in pain and was attended to by team trainer Don DelNegro.
"He was trying to be sneaky and do a cheap shot," Marchand said immediately following the game. "The ref caught him and that's all that matters."
Chimera was given a two-minute minor penalty for the slash and while Marchand said he understands the intensity of the playoffs, he thought Chimera crossed the line.
"You don't want to see stuff like that," Marchand said. "You want to try to stay away from that stuff, but that happens in the playoffs."
The Bruins lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is Thursday in Washington; the best-of-seven series moves back to Boston Saturday for Game 5.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.