Arizona Coyotes forward Jason Zucker has been suspended three games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for boarding Florida Panthers forward Nick Cousins on Tuesday night.

Zucker will forfeit $82,812.51 in salary. He's eligible to appeal the decision to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

In their game on Tuesday night in Tempe, Cousins delivered a hit to Coyotes defenseman Juuso Valimaki while Valimaki was on one knee against the side boards. Zucker saw the play, skated over and delivered a check to the back of Cousins, driving his head against the glass.

That led to a fight between Florida's Gustav Forsling and Zucker, who was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. The incident occurred at 19:09 of the second period during Florida's 4-1 win at Mullett Arena.

Panthers coach Paul Maurice said on Wednesday that Cousins is in the concussion protocol.

"While Zucker insists that this play was not done in retribution, this is a hit from behind on a defenseless player who is no longer in possession of the puck, which causes a forceful impact with the boards and causes an injury," the Department of Player Safety said in its ruling, after a hearing with Zucker on Wednesday.

Zucker has never been fined or suspended before in his 13-year NHL career.

The Cousins hit that preceded Zucker's actions did not rise to the level of either a penalty in the game or supplemental discipline from the NHL -- despite outrage from fans who watched one replay that appeared to show Cousins taking a run at a vulnerable Valimaki.

A reverse angle of the Cousins hit shows he had little time to adjust his angle of approach as Valimaki drops to the ice. The force of the hit itself wasn't substantial enough to warrant either a penalty or an NHL hearing, either. Valimaki remained in the game and played nine shifts in the third period for Arizona.

Cousins is one of the NHL's most divisive players -- an agitator known for his trash-talking on the ice and aggressive play. Last month, he was involved in an incident with Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Erik Gudbranson on another borderline hit. Cousins drove Gudbranson's head into the end boards on a hit that was initially ruled a five-minute major but reviewed down to a minor penalty. Gudbranson was suspended one game by NHL Player Safety for going after Cousins following the hit.