Updated June 8, 2021 - 8:03 pm
DENVER — Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri’s eight-game suspension was upheld by an independent arbitrator Wednesday.
Kadri will not play in the next two games of the West Division final against the Golden Knights and is not eligible to return unless there is a Game 7 on Saturday.
Kadri was suspended May 21 for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs.
He previously appealed to commissioner Gary Bettman, who upheld the NHL Department of Player Safety’s ruling and said it was “supported by clear and convincing evidence.”
Kadri then appealed to independent arbitrator Shyam Das, but had his case denied in a binding ruling.
“I don’t think our game plan changes whether he’s in the lineup or not,” Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “We have to continue to build off our game and what we do well.”
Kadri centered the Avalanche’s No. 2 line during the regular season and had 11 goals and 21 assists in 56 games. He had one assist in two games before the suspension.
Without Kadri in the lineup, the Knights’ second line has controlled its matchup in the series. William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith produced seven of the team’s 11 goals through the first four games.
“He’s been a big part of our team all year,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said Saturday. “We can rely on him to play against lines like the Karlsson line. … No question that we miss a guy like (Kadri) in a series like this playing against a deep team with a deep group of forwards.”
Forward Mattias Janmark returned after missing the past three games, and forward Ryan Reaves was a healthy scratch in favor of Keegan Kolesar.
Janmark, who had a hat trick in the Game 7 win over Minnesota, was injured during the series opener when he absorbed a hard check from Colorado defenseman Ryan Graves, who was penalized for interference.
Reaves was suspended two games for retaliating on Graves, but returned for Game 4 and had an assist and seven hits in 10:18 of ice time. This was the first time he was a healthy scratch in the playoffs since the inaugural season.
Defenseman Nick Holden also was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch Sunday for the first time in eight games. Nic Hague sat for the third time in the postseason.