Jesperi Kotkaniemi didn’t try to intentionally injure Elias Pettersson

It should have been a penalty, but the Canadiens rookie didn’t try to injure the future Calder Trophy-winner.

The Montreal Canadiens started 2019 off with a 33-save Carey Price shutout, and a beautiful goal from Jonathan Drouin. However, the biggest storyline from the game was the injury to Canucks wunderkind Elias Pettersson, who left the game after an incident with the Canadiens’ Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

The two battled along the boards, where Pettersson gave Kotkaniemi a solid check which rattled the Finnish rookie. Kotkaniemi then hooked Pettersson around the waist to give him a retaliatory shot as Pettersson skated away, and then it all went sideways.

Pettersson stops up, in what looks like an attempt to throw a reverse hit at Kotkaniemi. At this point the officials should have already had a hand in the air for a hook from Kotkaniemi, but the play continued.

From there, Kotkaniemi avoids the contact with Pettersson’s torso, but his forward momentum carries him through, and during this Pettersson and Kotkaniemi’s legs become tangled up as they fall to the ice. Kotkaniemi had grabbed onto Pettersson during this, which also could have been a penalty in its own right, but the initial contact after the hook was initiated by Pettersson, not Kotkaniemi.

As the two rookies fell to the ice in an entangled mess, Pettersson’s leg bent behind him, causing the suspected injury, and forcing him out of the game. He was able to skate off under his own power which hopefully bodes well for a quick return.

No one likes seeing an exciting young player miss time due to an injury. As Pettersson left the ice, Kotkaniemi skated over from the bench to offer an apology and stick tap in a show of sportsmanship.

Despite what some people thought, head coach Travis Green and Brandon Sutter both called the incident an accident.

It was a play that should have resulted in a penalty on Kotkaniemi, but the part of the play that should have been penalized did not lead to the injury. He didn’t try to purposely injure Pettersson, and the Canucks as a whole seem to agree. This isn’t like Mike Matheson’s body slam on Pettersson earlier this year. It was an unfortunate accident, nothing more.

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