The NHL suspended Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak for two games Friday for elbowing Kyle Okposo of the Buffalo Sabres.
Late in the third period of Thursday's 6-5 overtime loss to Buffalo, Cernak skated in moments after Okposo advanced the puck into the offensive zone and stuck out his left elbow, making contact with Okposo's face.
The NHL Department of Player Safety made its ruling following a hearing with Cernak.
"It is important to note that the onus is on Cernak to deliver this hit in a legal fashion," a Department of Player Safety official said in an explanation video. "Instead, 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 official noted that it was the second suspension of Cernak's career.
The 25-year-old will miss Tampa Bay's two-game road trip Saturday at the Detroit Red Wings and Sunday at the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Cernak has one goal and 10 assists in 51 games this season. He has tallied 17 goals and 53 assists (70 points) in 277 career games since entering the league in 2018-19.
--Field Level Media