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Duncan Keith ejected, could face suspension

Duncan Keith has nine goals and 34 assists in 66 games this season. (AP Photo)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Duncan Keith was thrown out of Tuesday night’s game and could face a lengthy suspension after he swung his stick at the face of Minnesota center Charlie Coyle in the first period.

Keith fell on his back during play, and took a one-handed swipe of his stick across Coyle’s face — drawing blood — as he rolled over to get back up. Keith was assessed a match penalty for “intent to injure.” The match penalty carries an ejection and an automatic suspension pending league review (not all match penalties lead to suspensions, however; often, the ejection is considered enough). A league source said the Department of Player Safety was already reviewing the incident. The nature of Keith’s infraction — and the fact that he’s been suspended for swinging his stick before, in the 2013 Western Conference final — could lead to a suspension. The Hawks have five games left in the regular season after Tuesday night. Keith is not considered a repeat offender because the previous suspension was more than 18 months ago, but that only affects the amount of salary forfeited, not the length of a suspension.

The Hawks successfully killed the five-minute major penalty, and even tied the game 1-1 on a shorthanded goal by Marian Hossa, the 499th of his career.

The Hawks already were without Brent Seabrook, a late scratch due to an illness. So they finished the game against Minnesota with a defensive corps of Niklas Hjalmarsson, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Christian Ehrhoff, Viktor Svedberg and Michal Rozsival.