NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Rangers forward Brandon Prust was suspended for one game by the NHL on Sunday for elbowing New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov.
The incident occurred in Saturday's Game Three of the Eastern Conference final between the bitter rivals, won 3-0 by the Rangers.
Volchenkov fell heavily to the ice but was not injured and continued playing. Prust was not penalized at the time but was ordered to a hearing with the NHL's department of player safety, which took a dim view of the hit.
"This was a reckless elbow to the head," NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan said in a video statement.
Prust will miss Monday's Game Four in Newark, which the Devils need to win to level the best-of-seven series at 2-2, after the incident triggered a war of words between the rival coaches.
"(It was) head-hunting. Plain and simple," said New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer.
His comments prompted an angry response from New York coach John Tortorella, who accused the Devils of double standards.
"Maybe if our players stayed down on the ice, we'll get something," Tortorella said.
"We tell our players don't stay down on the ice. Get up. I hope. I'll leave it at that.
Prust, speaking to reporters before the suspension was handed down, said he did not think he deserved a ban, claiming his Russian opponent had made the incident look worse than it really was.
"I just wanted to rub him out and get off the ice," Prust said. "I had no intent to hit him in the head. There was nothing vicious about it."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)