The NHL has suspended Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak for two games for elbowing Sabres captain Kyle Okposo in the face late in regulation of Buffalo’s 6-5 overtime win Thursday in Tampa Bay.
As Okposo tried to enter the Tampa Bay zone, Cernak appeared to have his opponent lined up for a clean hit. Okposo, however, tried to evade Cernak and cut toward the middle of the ice.
“In danger of missing Okposo entirely, Cernak compensates by extending his elbow back and away from his body in a way that causes it to make direct contact with Okposo’s head with force,” the NHL Department of Player Safety said in a video explaining the suspension.
No penalty was called on the play. Okposo, who has a history of concussions, stayed in the game.
Cernak, 25, had a hearing Friday. The suspension will cost him $31,81.90 in salary.
His only previous suspension, coincidentally, was a two-game ban for elbowing Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin in the face in November 2019. Dahlin suffered a concussion on that hit.
Cernak puts the elbow to Okposo’s face #LetsGoBuffalo #TBLightning pic.twitter.com/J3qHvq07hv
— Buffalo Hockey moments (@SabresPlays) February 24, 2023