However, Pacioretty was on the delivering end Saturday night, while Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was on the receiving end.
As you can see, Letang was bloodied on the play due to a broken nose, but he was ultimately all right. In fact, he would come back to score the overtime winner that same night.
Head of the NHL Department of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan released a video statement on the incident. The league found that Letang put himself in a vulnerable spot, skating down the middle of the ice, and should have expected contact. However, the league also concluded that "no player should expect that his head will be picked and made the principal point of contact."
Shanahan hit the nail on the head here. If you're coming down the middle, expect to get smoked. However, that hit must be a clean one, not targeting the head, which it was not. Therefore, it's a fair suspension.
The fact that Letang came back and Pacioretty—Shanahan's 16th suspension victim thus far—having a clean record were also big factors in play here.
In any event, it's a three-game ban, and that's a fair assessment. Life goes on.