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Jackets' Gudbranson will have hearing for altercation with Cousins

Ben Jackson / National Hockey League / Getty

Blue Jackets defenseman Erik Gudbranson will have a hearing for his altercation with Florida Panthers forward Nick Cousins during Columbus' 5-2 loss Sunday, the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced.

Gudbranson was ejected for instigating a fight with Cousins in the third period. Referees assessed Gudbranson with 27 minutes of penalties on the play: A 10-minute misconduct and two-minute minor for instigating, a 10-minute game misconduct, and five minutes for fighting.

Panthers star Aleksander Barkov scored with just over 30 seconds remaining on the ensuing seven-minute power play to extend Florida's lead to 3-1. The goal ended up being the game-winner.

Gudbranson's actions were in retaliation for Cousins hitting him from behind earlier in the third period.

After initially being called a match penalty, refs reduced Cousins' hit to a two-minute minor for boarding. Gudbranson and Panthers forward Sam Bennett each received minors for roughing on the play.

Blue Jackets head coach Pascal Vincent addressed the feistiness between Cousins and Gudbranson after the game.

"(Gudbranson) is a heart-and-soul kind of guy," Vincent said, according to Bally Sports Columbus. "He's vulnerable, facing the boards. We believe it was a five-minute (penalty on Cousins). If that call happens, that thing doesn't happen.

"He could have gotten seriously injured there. He's an emotional guy; he knows that it's a real dangerous hit. You saw the rest."

When asked if he foresaw Gudbranson's retaliation on Cousins, Vincent said, "We can't predict that."

Columbus forward Sean Kuraly said he and his teammates understood Gudbranson's response.

"Of course, yeah. Erik is a tough customer. We didn't like the way he was hit," he said. "It got to a point where he wanted to stand up for himself, and he got the first shot at the guy that did it."

The Blue Jackets and Panthers will next meet on April 11 in Florida.

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