Sharks' Karlsson to sit 2 games for illegal check to head

San Jose Sharks defenceman Erik Karlsson will get an extended Christmas break after the NHL handed him a two-game suspension Sunday for an illegal check to the head of Los Angeles forward Austin Wagner in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss.

Karlsson wasn't penalized on the play that occurred in the neutral zone at 2:35 of the second period. Wagner was spun around, hit the ice and was wobbly as he skated to the bench. He didn't return to the game after suffering an upper-body injury.

Watch/listen to the NHL's explanation for suspending Karlsson:

"It's one of those plays [where] I'm closing [the] gap, and he skates into me," Karlsson told reporters after the game. "I don't really lean into him, I'm in his lane, and it's a shoulder-to-shoulder hit.

“Unfortunately, he went down hard, and he didn’t come back, and I hope he’s OK. But at the end of the day, it’s a hockey play.”

Karlsson will miss Sunday evening's game against the visiting Arizona Coyotes and a Dec. 27 home contest versus Anaheim. He'll forfeit $ 69,892.48 in salary and is eligible to play again Dec. 29 at Edmonton.

No NHL games are scheduled Dec. 24-26.

8-game points streak

Before Sunday, Karlsson had a clean history on supplemental discipline, though the NHL did fine the former Ottawa Senators blue-liner $ 2,500 in March 2012 for a slash against Florida’s Sean Bergenheim.

Following a mid-September trade from Ottawa, Karlsson has collected points in each of his past eight games, including a pair of two-point efforts to give the 28-year-old 26 points in 37 contests.

A two-time recipient of the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman, he is in the final year of a seven-year, $ 45.5 million contract and would become a free agent July 1 if not signed. 

The 19-12-6 Sharks have dropped two in a row but entered play Sunday in second place in the Pacific Division, three points behind Calgary.

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