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Arizona Coyotes forward Jason Zucker has been suspended three games for an illegal hit on Florida Panthers forward Nick Cousins, the NHL announced on Thursday. Zucker hit Cousins from behind in the second period, and the latter is now in the concussion protocol.

In the final seconds of the second period, Cousins laid a hit on Coyotes defenseman Juuso Valimaki, who dropped to his knees right before the collision. Zucker apparently took exception to that and ran Cousins from behind.

Cousins' face went into the glass, and he collapsed on the ground before eventually getting up and skating off the ice under his own power.

After reviewing the play, the NHL Department of Player Safety chose to hand Zucker a three-game suspension for his actions. The league said Zucker's actions were determined to be deliberate, and Cousins had no way to defend himself on the play.

"It is important to note that this is not a case where a sudden or unexpected movement by Cousins just prior to contact turns a legal hit into an illegal one," the Department of Player Safety said in its video. "Nor is this a case where a player sees impending contact and fails to protect himself."

There were some questions about whether Cousins would receive discipline for his hit on Valimaki, but the NHL stated that Valimaki "drops to his knees immediately before Cousins makes contact with him."

Zucker, who signed a one-year contract with the Coyotes last summer, has six goals and six assists in 29 games this season.