NHL suspends Coyotes’ Zac Rinaldo 6 games for punching Avs’ Samuel Girard

DENVER — Arizona Coyotes center Zac Rinaldo has been suspended six games for punching Samuel Girard of the Avalanche.

Rinaldo was expected to take part in a phone hearing Wednesday with the NHL after waiving his right to have an in-person hearing.

The league’s player safety department announced his suspension with a tweet about an hour before the Coyotes’ second game in four days against the Avalanche.

During the second period of Arizona’s 6-2 loss to the Avalanche on Saturday, Rinaldo, who was playing with a broken nose, delivered an aggressive check on Nathan MacKinnon in the neutral zone.

With MacKinnon hunched over after the hit, Girard confronted Rinaldo before the Arizona center punched the rookie in the face.

This is the fifth suspension of Rinaldo’s career. He was banned eight games for boarding Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang in 2015 and five games for an illegal hit on Tampa Bay forward Cedric Paquette last season.