Blue Jackets center Derek MacKenzie was suspended three games by the NHL for a hit from behind on Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Thursday.

Although no penalty was called, the league determined yesterday that MacKenzie was guilty of boarding midway through the first period of the Blue Jackets’ 2-0 victory. Ekman-Larsson suffered an upper-body injury from the hit — termed “reckless” in the league’s explanation — and did not return to the game.

The league deemed the hit worthy of suspension because Ekman-Larsson’s back was to MacKenzie during the entire play, Ekman-Larsson made no sudden movement before or at the same time as the hit, and MacKenzie finished the check with “significant force.”

Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle engaged MacKenzie after the hit, and both were penalized five minutes for fighting.

“(Ekman-Larsson) actually got hit in Buffalo, and we talked about if a guy gets hit like that, you’ve got to stick up for him,” Yandle said. “I’m not going to beat anybody up, but you’ve got to stick up for him. He’d do the same for me.”