San Jose Sharks forward Luke Kunin was assessed a match penalty at 9:14 of the first period during tonight’s San Jose Sharks-Florida Panthers tilt.
Kunin, using his shoulder, appeared to strike Patric Hornqvist, who was stretching out for the puck, in the head.
Luke Kunin getting a 5 min major here pic.twitter.com/ZGSIn6ICau
— Locked on Sharks (@LockedOnSharks) November 4, 2022
After a review from the officials, the call on the ice stood as an illegal check to the head against Florida Panthers forward Patric Hornqvist. Kunin was tossed.
“We see here is the head snaps back,” ESPN rules analyst Dave Jackson said on the ESPN+ broadcast. “The referee’s first priority is player safety.”
Hornqvist headed back to the Panthers’ locker room during the major penalty review and still hasn’t returned. Kevin Labanc served the five-minute penalty.
“The onus is on the defender making the hit to not make contact with his head,” Jackson stated, while discussing the check to the head rule.
Kunin’s only other previous league discipline was a $1,000 fine by the NHL Department of Player Safety during the 2020 Playoff Qualifying Round. Kunin got involved from the bench with Canucks forward Michael Ferland and received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
San Jose Sharks fans know the origin of the major penalty review: The Sharks’ Game Seven playoff comeback in 2019 against the Vegas Golden Knights was spurred by a controversial and non-reviewable Cody Eakin match penalty. Following that postseason, the NHL implemented a rule that every major penalty would be reviewed with the ability to either reduce the penalty to a regular two-minute minor or to keep the call on the ice.
The San Jose Sharks’ penalty kill was solid only conceding one goal at the end of the major to the Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov.
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