NHL to discuss hit by Capitals' Tom Wilson to head of Zach Aston-Reese

PITTSBURGH -- Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson will have a hearing with the NHL department of player safety on Wednesday for a check to the head in Game 3 that broke the jaw of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese.

The hearing could have big implications for Game 4 of this increasingly brutal best-of-seven series.

With just over 10 minutes left in the second period on Tuesday night, Wilson lined up Aston-Reese with a hit near the Capitals bench. Aston-Reese fell to the ice, bleeding, as the impact carried Wilson onto his bench.

Aston-Reese got up and skated over to the Penguins' bench and left down the tunnel for treatment, missing the rest of the Penguins' 4-3 defeat to Washington.

No penalty was called on the play. Wilson was later instrumental in the Capitals' game-winning goal, tripping up defenseman Olli Maatta to spring Alex Ovechkin on an odd-man rush goal.

The NHL department of player safety will look at Rule 48.1 to see if Wilson "attempted to hit squarely through" Aston-Reese's body and the head wasn't picked because of a poorly delivered hit. It also will look at the "main point of contact" provision to see whether Wilson primarily hit Aston-Reese's shoulder or head.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz defended the hit after the game, which gave Washington a 2-1 lead in the series ahead of Game 4 on Thursday.

"All I saw was the hit," Trotz said. "Shoulder-on-shoulder. Both guys braced for it."

It was the second straight game in which Wilson delivered a high hit that made contact with a Penguins player's head and knocked him out of a game. In Game 2, Wilson collided with Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who returned for Game 3.

The NHL department of player safety determined that Wilson's contact with Dumoulin was not considered an illegal check to the head. It felt that contact with the head was unavoidable on the play, and Dumoulin, by bracing for a hit from Ovechkin, materially changed the position of his head prior to Wilson making contact with him.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan wanted the NHL to take action against Wilson.

"We lose a guy to a broken jaw that's going to require surgery and a concussion because of another high hit to the head," Sullivan said. "At some point we would hope that the league might do something."