Panthers livid over Abdelkader's 'cheap shot' on Barkov
The Florida Panthers were not amused after Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader got away with a hit to the head of Aleksander Barkov on Monday night.
Related: Red Wings' Abdelkader lands high hit on Panthers' Barkov
Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad believes Abdelkader should have been penalized.
"I don't know if it was an elbow or a shoulder, but he got him in the head and it's a head shot,'' Bjugstad said postgame, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald. He added, "It was a cheap hit, I don't know how the ref didn't call it.''
Barkov left the game and didn't return with what the team called an upper-body injury. Richards reported the 20-year-old center was removed due to a possible concussion.
"We're not happy with it," Bjugstad said. "It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We'll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don't know how it wasn't handled on the ice."
Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant was a bit more diplomatic, but wasn't happy either.
"You hate to lose your top player, but that's part of the game,'' Gallant said. "We're disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn't see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It's tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it'll be looked at. (Abdelkader) left his feet a little and got him in the jaw."
Jaromir Jagr also placed the blame on the officials.
"They are going to do whatever the referees allow them to," Jagr said. "It's up to the referees for it to stop."
Abdelkader defended the hit, telling reporters he thought his feet were on the ice and implying that he didn't target Barkov's head.
Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said he thought it was a "totally clean hit".
Barkov will reportedly miss Tuesday's game against the Buffalo Sabres, but his status beyond that contest is unclear.
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