A hit that caught Los Angeles winger Wayne Simmonds in the head earned Penguins center and NHL leading scorer Evgeni Malkin a disciplinary hearing with the NHL by phone yesterday after practice at Southpointe.
If the league decides a suspension is warranted, it would be handed down before the Penguins' important Eastern Conference showdown with Philadelphia this afternoon at Mellon Arena.
With 12 seconds remaining in regulation of the Penguins' 4-1 win Friday, Malkin pursued the puck over the Kings' blue line. Simmonds approached Malkin and the puck, and Malkin threw a shoulder-first body check into Simmonds.
Matchup: Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 12:38 p.m., Mellon Arena.
TV, radio: WPXI, WXDX-FM (105.9).
Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Martin Biron for Flyers.
Penguins: Are 4-1 vs. Flyers this season and have won eight in a row at home against them. ... Are 3-0-1 midway through eight-game homestand. ... C Sidney Crosby has 20 goals, 45 points in 25 career games vs. Flyers.
Flyers: Are 1-2 on road trip that concludes today. ... In past nine games, C Mike Richards has 3 goals, 8 assists, LW Simon Gagne 4 goals, 7 assists. ... RW Joffrey Lupul has a goal in past four games vs. Penguins and 11 goals, 8 assists vs. Penguins since start of last season.
Hidden stat: Flyers C Daniel Briere had two goals Friday in 6-4 win against Buffalo, his first goals since Nov. 11 after missing 53 games with groin and stomach problems.
There was no penalty on the play, but players from both teams lingered and jawed some after the final buzzer.
Although his English is improving, the Russian-born Malkin -- who had a goal and an assist in the game to boost his season points total to 104 -- had some difficulty conveying his thoughts about the hit.
He indicated he believes Simmonds put himself in a "dangerous" situation, apparently because his body was extended and his head was down.
Penguins interim coach Dan Bylsma pointed out that the hit came in a game where there were several minor skirmishes, a couple involving Malkin. Simmonds and Penguins winger Matt Cooke each drew a minor penalty and a 10-minute misconduct for a confrontation in the second period.
"[Malkin] plays a gritty game and teams go after him," Bylsma said. "He responds by playing gritty in return. ... There's a situation where it's a puck battle. He's going after the puck. If you watch, he's trying to play the puck as well as trying to take the body, and that's something [Malkin] does every game, throughout every game, and he did it right to the whistle last game."
Penguins defenseman Philippe Boucher has been taken off injured reserve and given medical clearance to play.
"I've been feeling good on the ice," said Boucher, who had two screws surgically implanted in a weight-bearing bone in his left foot Feb. 13.
"I think I need a little more time in practice, but things have been going well," he added.
Bylsma said Boucher could be used in a pinch.
"He's done some pretty serious skating to this point," Bylsma said. "He's close."
Boucher had two goals, seven points and a plus-minus rating of plus-2 in 39 games before the foot injury forced him from the lineup.
The Penguins have been playing with the minimum six defensemen, so having Boucher back makes things a little crowded on the blue line.
"It certainly is a dilemma," Bylsma said. "[Boucher] is a good player, a right-handed shot. He's had a long career.
"We've been going well with the six that have been in there. This is the time of the year when you need good, healthy defensemen. To have seven is a luxury, and we'll deal with that luxury. I'm glad to have it."
Boucher hasn't played since Jan. 30 and described his recovery as a little ahead of schedule.
"We pushed that a little bit and started skating early," he said. "It's been responding well."
Philadelphia is the only team that hasn't given up a shorthanded goal this season, but has scored a league-high 16.
The 1975-76 Montreal Canadiens are the only team in the modern era to make it through a season without allowing a shorthanded goal.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1721.