Matt Bartkowski was ejected from Sunday’s game. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Bruins’ Matt Bartkowski won’t be suspended for hitting Sabres’ Brian Gionta

Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski won’t be suspended or fined for hitting Sabres captain Brian Gionta high in Buffalo’s 4-3 overtime loss Sunday in Boston.

The NHL Department of Player Safety explained its decision this afternoon in three tweets, writing, “Bartkowski/Gionta is an example of incidental contact on an otherwise full body check. The head was NOT the main point of contact. Also, Gionta puts himself in a vulnerable position making contact with his head unavoidable. Bartkowski neither extends upward, nor does he ‘pick’ the head.”

Bartkowski’s first-period hit flipped Gionta, who landed on his face. Gionta skated off but never returned to the game. The 6-foot-1 Bartkowski, who’s five inches taller than Gionta, was given a five-minute interference penalty and a game misconduct.

Watch the video below. It’s a tricky call to make. The hit looks frightening when first viewed.

“Still a little shaken up,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said about Gionta following the game. “We don’t know if he’s going to be in (Tuesday) or not.”

The Sabres have a day off today in Detroit.

In other news, Sabres prospect Sam Reinhart has been named an alternate captain for Team Canada’s entry at the upcoming world junior championship. The 19-year-old center played nine NHL games earlier this season. Ottawa Senators prospect Curtis Lazar was named captain.

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