Dec 9 (The Sports Xchange) - The NHL suspended Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal five games for kneeing Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand in the head during Saturday night's game.
The five-game ban is the maximum allowable following Neal's telephone hearing with the league's Department of Player Safety.
Neal, 26, clipped Marchand with his knee after Marchand fell to the ice during the first period of the game. Neal was assessed a minor penalty on the play. He then scored a goal just seven seconds after his penalty expired.
Under terms of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, Neal is considered a first-time offender. However, he was suspended one game during 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs and two games in 2009.
The Chicago Blackhawks placed forward Bryan Bickell on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 19 when he suffered a lower-body injury reported to be to his left leg.
Goaltender Kent Simpson was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League to fill Bickell's roster spot.
Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo were named the NHL's "Three Stars" for the week. (Editing by Frank Pingue)