Panthers’ Sam Bennett banned 3 games for hit to head

January 3, 2022 GMT
Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett (9) takes a shot on goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Reaves)
Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett (9) takes a shot on goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Reaves)
Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett (9) takes a shot on goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Reaves)
Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett (9) takes a shot on goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Reaves)
Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett (9) takes a shot on goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Reaves)

NEW YORK (AP) — Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett was suspended three games without pay by the NHL on Sunday for an illegal check to the head of Montreal Canadiens forward Cedric Paquette during a game Saturday.

Bennett, who scored twice during Florida’s 5-2 win, injured Paquette with his hit 3:09 into the first period. Paquette took possession of the puck in front of his own net and turned up ice to make a pass when Bennett glided in and drove a shoulder into Paquette’s head.

Paquette left with a neck injury and did not return. Bennett wasn’t penalized on the play.

The 25-year-old Bennett is considered a repeat offender under terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement and will forfeit just under $162,000. He has 11 goals and six assists in 26 games this season.

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