Wilson suspended three games, out for Capitals in Game 4
Forward disciplined for check to head of Penguins forward Aston-Reese, could return for Game 7by David Satriano and Tracey Myers / NHL.com Staff Writers
Tom Wilson has been suspended three games by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
The Washington Capitals forward was disciplined Wednesday for an illegal check to the head of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Resse 9:38 into the second period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Tuesday.
Wilson was not penalized. Aston-Reese left the game, and the Penguins said he has a broken jaw and a concussion and will miss the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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Wilson will not be eligible for Game 4 at Pittsburgh on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBC, TVAS, SN). He is eligible to return for Game 7 if it is necessary.
The Capitals won Game 3 4-3 and lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.
"We'll prepare like we always do," Washington coach Barry Trotz said Wednesday before the suspension was announced. "The focus is on the next game, and any adjustments or any changes we make, we'll react however we need to. We're taking roll call today and we'll see where we are."
Video: Wilson suspended 3 games for an illegal head check
Wilson, who plays on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, has seven points (two goals, five assists) in nine playoff games. He had an assist on the tying goal and was on the ice for the game-winner in a 4-3, Game 3 victory.
Forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who's been playing on the third line with Brett Connolly and Lars Eller, could take Wilson's place on the top line, and Jakub Vrana is a possibility. Smith-Pelly has three points (two goals, one assist) in nine games, and Vrana has two points (one goal, one assist) in eight games.
Rookie forwards Shane Gersich or Travis Boyd could play in Game 4. Gersich, 21, had one assist in three NHL games this season, and Boyd, 24, had one assist in eight games. Neither has played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"They've played games with us in the past and have been in the organization for a bit. So anyone who needs to step in, we feel comfortable with, and skating with them today, they're ready to go," Washington forward Jay Beagle said. "They're going hard out there, and it's fun. They're young, and it keeps it a lot of fun when you go out there and you get to skate with just the young guys."
Washington has won two in a row after losing Game 1. The Capitals haven't reached the Eastern Conference Final since 1998.
"We're just going to keep playing," Washington forward Brett Connolly said. "We're having a good series so far, so we've got to focus on tomorrow and hopefully we can come away with another win."
Wilson was suspended for the first four games of the regular season for boarding St. Louis Blues forward Sammy Blais in a preseason game Oct. 1. Wilson also was suspended two games in the preseason for a late hit on Blues forward Robert Thomas on Sept. 23.
"We can only control between the whistles," Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang told the Penguins website Wednesday. "Anything you're going to do after the whistle or behind the play, it's not going to help us win. Our focus is to play the game and let the League do what they have to do."
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