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Downie, Kunitz receive one-game suspensions

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Steve Downie's in hot water with the NHL. And so is Pittsburgh Penguins winger Chris Kunitz.

The hits just keep coming in these playoffs, and we're only six days in.

Here's a look at the two latest incidents, both of which were met with one-game suspensions this afternoon. First up is Downie leaving his feet on a big hit behind the net on Penguins defenceman Ben Lovejoy early in last night's game:

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Amazing that this hit comes only a couple hours after NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell explained that Raffi Torres's hit was not a suspension in part because it took place behind the net.

And here's Kunitz delivering a subtle elbow to the back of Lightning winger Simon Gagne's head in the same game as Downie's hit:

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Both players had hearings with NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell at 10 a.m. this morning. Reports have come out a few hours later that they received the one-game suspensions and will sit out tomorrow's Game 4.

The number is very low for Kunitz given recent elbowing incidents, like Torres's on Jordan Eberle late in the year, were met with multiple game suspensions. A one-game ban is the smallest punishment the league office can give out other than a fine, and they both cancel each other out here given one forward from each team will be out (although Kunitz is a bigger contributer to the Pens in terms of ice time).

And here's a question on Downie: Why on earth did he receive 20 games for this hit on Dean McAmmond four years ago and only one this time around? The plays are similar, with the check on McAmmond obviously more egregious, but Downie's a repeat offender, in multiple leagues, and hasn't seemed to have learned his lesson.

After Jarret Stoll's hit from behind and Anaheim Ducks winger Bobby Ryan's stomp, these are the third and fourth suspensions of the postseason after six days and that's if we don't count those given to Torres and Matt Cooke for infractions during the regular season that have carried into the playoffs.

And it's safe to say more are likely on the way.

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UPDATE Here's what Campbell had to say on the suspensions:

"Downie left his feet and launched himself at the head of his opponent and he came from a considerable distance, with speed and force, to deliver the check," he said. "Kunitz delivered an elbow directly to the head of his opponent."

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Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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