San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres was suspended for the remainder of his team's Western Conference semifinal playoff series against the Kings — a ban of up to six games — for what the NHL judged was an illegal hit to the head of Kings center Jarret Stoll on Tuesday.
The decision was announced Thursday by Brendan Shanahan, the league's director of player safety, after a hearing in New York that was attended by Torres.
Stoll, one of the Kings' primary penalty-killing forwards and a valued third-line center, probably sustained a concussion from the hit, which occurred near the end of the second period of the Kings' 2-0 victory in the series opener. Stoll is expected to miss the first four games of this series and maybe longer, though the team has not disclosed the exact nature of his injury.
BOX SCORE: Kings 4, Sharks 3
Additionally, Stoll has a concussion history, dating back to the 2006-07 campaign when he was still with the Edmonton Oilers. He missed the final 30 games of that season because of a concussion.
Shanahan cited the injury to Stoll as a factor in his decision. He also noted that the hit was an illegal check to the head, and that Torres is a repeat offender.
Torres previously has been suspended three times and fined three times by the league for illegal actions. His biggest punishment was a 25-game ban levied against him a year ago for a hit to the head of Chicago's Marian Hossa during the playoffs when he was with the Phoenix Coyotes. The Chicago forward suffered a concussion. The ban was reduced to 21 games upon appeal.
Shanahan said that even though Torres might have struck a "glancing blow" to Stoll's shoulder, the principal point of contact was Stoll's head.
"Torres approaches from the high slot as Stoll is heading up ice and tries to play a bouncing puck," Shanahan said.
"Rather than hit Stoll through the core of his body, Torres takes a route that makes Stoll's head the principal point of contact….
Sharks captain Joe Thornton said after Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Kings that his reaction to his teammate's loss was, "Nothing. We can't change it." Teammate Logan Couture added, "We figured he was going to miss some games."
The Sharks ended the 125-minute shutout streak of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and were 104 seconds from victory before the Kings' surge of two goals in 22 seconds in Game 2.
Can they recover now from a 2-0 deficit? Or is their fate sealed?
"It better not be," Couture said after assisting on Patrick Marleau's streak-ending goal off Quick. "We did a lot of good things, had several good looks at the goal. We've got to do the same thing at home now."
Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, who saved 27 of 29 shots until the bitter end that began with the Kings scoring on a two-man advantage, said, "It's tough. They have top players who can shoot the puck. I made a save on the short side and they had a guy [Dustin Brown] right there. We had it, but we play better at home, so hopefully we'll play better than we did tonight."
The Kings' winning goal by Trevor Lewis was enabled by a delay-of-game penalty called on Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic for flipping the puck over the glass.
Couture said the penalty shouldn't have been called.
"It hit [Kings center Jeff] Carter on the shoulder, so."
The Kings have now won 12 consecutive home games.
Times staff writer Lance Pugmire contributed to this report.