The Predators could be down another center for Sunday’s do-or-die Game 6 against the Penguins, but it’s highly unlikely.
Colton Sissons was assessed a match penalty for cross-checking Olli Maatta in the face with 30 seconds remaining in Pittsburgh’s Game 5 blowout win, meaning he is suspended from competition until the league rules otherwise.
According to the NHL rulebook, a match penalty is “imposed on any player who deliberately attempts to injure or who deliberately injures an opponent in any manner.”
That definition doesn’t seem to apply in this case.
Both players were exchanging cross-checks when Maatta stumbled forward and Sissons got in one final shot across the bridge of his nose. It doesn’t look intentional, especially when you factor in that Sissons wasn’t looking directly at Maatta when he did it.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette doesn’t seem too concerned about a possible suspension.
“I watched it play out. I saw Maatta cross-check him, Colton cross-checked him back, Maatta cross-checked him again, and they were doing it somewhere in the midsection. On the last one, Maatta seemed to slip and his head dropped,” Laviolette said after the game.
“I don’t think there was any intention there whatsoever, so – I don’t think so, but that’s not my call.”
The Predators are already without Ryan Johansen and can’t afford to lose another man down the middle.
Sissons is averaging the third most minutes of any Nashville forward this series, pulling in 17:21 per game. He’s also been the team’s top faceoff guy, taking more draws than any other center and winning 55.2 percent of the time.