Pens' Kunitz apparently in the clear

Posted: April 21, 2009

The NHL apparently will not discipline Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz for his hit on Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen early in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal Sunday.

As an unsuspecting Timonen was battling for the puck with Sidney Crosby, Kunitz took several strides before appearing to hit Timonen in the head with his right elbow.

No penalty was called.

An NHL official said the league reviewed Kunitz's hit but that it could not reveal whether a conference call was held between the league and the veteran winger. The source said a conference-call hearing would be conducted if a player was going to be suspended.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero said no conference call was scheduled.

"It looked like a questionable hit, but we'll defer to the league," said Peter Luukko, the Flyers' president.

The league reacted differently in handling an incident involving the Flyers' Dan Carcillo late in Game 1.

No penalty was called on Carcillo for a hit to Max Talbot's head. The league reviewed the play, however, and held a conference call with Carcillo and Flyers officials. The result: Carcillo was suspended for Game 2, and coach John Stevens was fined $10,000.

Regarding Sunday's play, Stevens said yesterday that Kunitz was "not just trying to get the puck there; he's trying to hit [Timonen] to hurt him." Kunitz also delivered a punishing hit to Timonen in Game 1.

Kunitz called the hit in Game 3 "just one of those things."

"I was going in trying to pressure hard and the puck kind of bobbled, and I just came down to finish the check," he said. "I think it probably looked worse than it really was. I think he pulled away. It's just one of those things. You try to play hard and finish your check."

If the Flyers go after Kunitz tonight, the winger said, "you've obviously got to protect yourself. But if it puts us on a power play, that's great."

Pens' edge. In the first three games, the Penguins have outscored the Flyers, 10-9. The Penguins have a 6-4 advantage when the teams are at even strength.

"When we play five-on-five," Penguins forward Petr Sykora said, "we are the better hockey club."

Goalie report. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury has a 2.42 goals-against-average and a .917 save percentage in the series. The Flyers' Marty Biron has a 3.05 GAA and a .910 save percentage.

Stars update. The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin and Crosby have combined for 12 points (five goals, seven assists), while Jeff Carter and Mike Richards have three points (two goals, one assist).

Breakaways. Crosby won 14 of 20 face-offs (70 percent) Sunday as the Pens had a 29-26 edge in draws. Flyers rookie Jared Ross won 5 of 6 face-offs (83 percent). . . . About 200 tickets remained for tonight's game, the Flyers said.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.

Staff writer Ray Parrillo contributed to this article.

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