Dallas Stars right winger Ryan Garbutt played in his first game in over a week on Tuesday night after missing a handful of games with an upper-body injury. His return was an energetic one and he provided some much needed speed and grit when the game started to get bogged down for the Stars, but unfortunately it seems he might just be missing a few more games.
Garbutt and the "pitbulls" line were put up against the top line with Taylor Hall for the latter half of the game and for most of the third period and the Stars forward did everything he could to agitate the fire out of the Oilers top trio. Late in the third period, Garbutt had a big hit along the boards and seemed to be wanting to fight Ryan Nugent-Hopkings; just a few seconds later this occurred:
That's about as clear an intentional knee-on-knee hit as you'll find. Given Hall's injury history with his knees, the Stars are lucky that Hall was able to finish the game, otherwise the punishment might end up being much more severe.
Garbutt was hit with a tripping penalty, but will now face a disciplinary hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday regarding the hit. The guess is this is just a phone hearing.
Garbutt is considered a repeat offender, having been suspended five games back in 2013 and then fined for another hit late last season.
For his part, Taylor Hall stated after the game he didn't think that Garbutt was intending to injure or make a particularly dirty play: "I know guys who know him. He's not that kind of player but I would liked to have seen more than two minutes."
It will be interesting to see how the league views this one. Garbutt is lucky that Hall wasn't hurt.