Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway was suspended without pay for three games for spitting on an opponent, the NHL announced on Wednesday.

Hathaway, who had a hearing with the NHL earlier in the day, had to sit out the Capitals’ road game against the New York Rangers on Wednesday, as well as home contests versus the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow and the Florida Panthers on Wednesday next week.

The spitting incident occurred in the final minute of the second period of Washington’s 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.

Hathaway reacted to a punch by Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson by spitting on his opponent. He received a five-minute match penalty and ejection from the contest.

“Unfortunately, spit came out of my mouth after I got sucker-punched and it went onto him,” Hathaway said on Monday. “It has no place. It was an emotional play by me. You don’t plan any of that stuff in your head, and it was a quick reaction and unfortunately the wrong one for me to a sucker punch.”

In other news, the Toronto Maple Leafs have fired head coach Mike Babcock and replaced him with Sheldon Keefe.

Babcock had a record of 9-10-4 in 2019-20 for the struggling Leafs, who are 0-5-1 in their past six games, including five straight losses in regulation.

Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan flew to Arizona on Wednesday to break the news to Babcock.

Babcock knew he would be on the hot seat if things went sideways.

“I do, for sure,” Babcock said. “The expectation each and every year should be greater than the previous year if you’re going in the right direction.”

Additional reporting by AP

On Wednesday, it was:

‧ Senators 2, Canadiens 1

‧ Rangers 4, Capitals 1