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Detroit Red Wings forward Teemu Pulkkinen was suspended four preseason games for an illegal hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Mike Kostka during a game on Tuesday, the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced on Thursday.
Pulkkinen checked Kostka in the back and sent him flying face-first into the boards in the first period. Kostka laid on the ice for a few minutes before being able to skate off under his own power. He did not return.
Pulkkinen was given a game misconduct and a five-minute major boarding penalty at 2:16 of the first period.
"As the video shows, Pulkkinen sees Kostka's back throughout the play and tracks his opponent for some distance," Department of Player Safety director Brendan Shanahan said in a video on NHL.com. "Pulkkinen has enough time to make a better decision on this play. Although Kostka peeks up and might see Pulkkinen coming, at no point is he facing Pulkkinen or eligible to be hit at this dangerous distance from the boards. While Pulkkinen does not explode through this check or finish with force, he delivers a dangerous check that could have and should have been avoided."
Shanahan said Pulkkinen received a four-game suspension because he was playing in his first NHL shift and had no disciplinary history and that Kostka didn't suffer an injury.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday that Kostka was unable to practice due to an upper-body injury he suffered from the hit.
"He's OK," Quenneville said. "He didn't skate today. He's better obviously than the other day. ... It was a very dangerous hit. That's [the NHL's decision whether to suspend Pulkkinen] but interesting shift for the kid."