Flyers coach Alain Vigneault defends Matt Niskanen’s shot as a “hockey game”

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Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault defended Matt Niskanen for his counter-check on Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher, saying it was “a game of hockey that unfortunately cut him off a bit.”Niskanen will have a hearing with the NHL Player Safety Department on Thursday regarding the incident, which occurred in the third period of the Flyers’ Game 5 loss on Wednesday.

“In my opinion, Gallagher got up and looked fine. He was talking to the referees. The whole time he was on the bench, he spoke to our players for the rest of the game, ”said Vigneault on Thursday. “Gallagher is a very competitive player, but I don’t think it’s Nisky’s fault. [Gallagher] maybe not as tall as the other guys, but he is as fat if not taller than anyone else. ”

Gallagher is undergoing a CT scan but has yet to leave the bubble for further medical attention. The 5-foot-9 forward, an emotional leader for the Canadiens, lost at least one tooth on the game, leaving his mouth bloody. Niskanen was not penalized on the play.

The Canadians survived elimination with a 5-3 victory, but the Flyers lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 on Friday. Gallagher scored in Wednesday’s win, his first playoff goal after leading all players to the playoffs with 37 shots.

At Vigneault’s press conference, he was asked questions in French about the Canadians who ranked Gallagher as “doubtful” for Game 6. Vigneault laughed and replied, in French: “If you see my smile says it all.

Canadiens interim coach Kirk Muller said the team had footage of the game they had sent to the league.

“I think the video will definitely explain what they will see,” Muller said. “But we are confident that the video will show what it shows. ”

Niskanen joined the Flyers this season via a trade from the Washington Capitals to add some veteran experience on the blue line. He won a Stanley Cup with Washington in 2018. Niskanen is second among the Flyers’ defensemen on time on the ice, behind only Ivan Provorov.

The 33-year-old doesn’t have a long history with the player safety department, but he was fined $ 5,000 – the maximum allowed by the collective agreement – in February for a cut on the Columbus forward Blue Jackets Gustav Nyquist. . In the 2017 playoffs, Niskanen escaped a suspension after a counter-check to the head of Sidney Crosby in Game 3 of the Capitals’ second round series against the Penguins. The Crosby incident is not included in Niskanen’s case and would not take into account the severity of the additional sentence.

The Canadiens vs. Flyers series, which had been largely a defensive battle, was grueling in Game 5. Montreal forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi was sent off after receiving a game foul for a hitting against Philadelphia defenseman Travis Sanheim. Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers was also penalized for contact with Jake Evans’ face after a scrum in front of the net.

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