Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey will have a hearing Wednesday with the NHL Department of Player Safety after cross-checking Wild center Eric Staal during a 2-0 win for Winnipeg in Game 4 Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.
“It’s warranted,” coach Bruce Boudreau said Wednesday. “I’m not up here trying to be gamesmanship to get the league to call extra stuff. It is what it is, though. It was a vicious cross-check to the face.”
The incident happened late in the first period while the Wild was on a power play. As Staal was posted up in the slot, Morrissey cross-checked him in the neck. Staal fell to the ice and struggled to get to his feet before skating gingerly to the bench.
There was no penalty on the play.
“It had a definite, definite impact on the game,” Boudreau said of the non-call. “If you can score on a five-on-three, then all of a sudden you’re playing with the lead. You’re not chasing the game. It’s different tactics by them and everything else. So from that standpoint, it impacted the game greatly.”
Instead of receiving a five-on-three power play, the Jets killed off the remaining time the Wild had with the man advantage and scored the game-winning goal with 28 seconds left in the first period – a Mark Scheifele tally that was helped set up by Morrissey.
“They wouldn’t have had the opportunity at the end of the first,” Boudreau said. “We would have started the second on a power play. He was the one, Nino [Niedrreiter] had a breakaway, and he made a great play defending."
Should Morrissey receive a suspension, his absence would further subtract from an already depleted Jets blue line. Dmitry Kulikov (upper body) and Toby Enstrom (lower body) have yet to play in the series, and Winnipeg was without Tyler Myers in Game 4 after he suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3.
“He’s playing pretty good for them,” Boudreau said of Morrissey. “He’s a major component. He plays a lot of minutes. But, I mean, [Tucker] Poolman played good [stepping in for Myers in Game 4]. Manitoba had one of the best American League teams in the league, so they’d bring somebody up that’s probably a pretty good defenseman.”