The Toronto Maple Leafs fell to the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 in Sunday’s outdoor Heritage Classic. They suffered an additional loss when superstar forward Auston Matthews delivered a nasty cross-check to Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin following a shoving battle between the two during the third period:
That crime will cost Matthews playing time and some cash.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced Monday that Matthews has been suspended two games without pay for cross-checking. He will forfeit $116,402 in salary, and that money will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
“While we acknowledge Matthews’ argument that this is not a cross-check meant to harm or injure his opponent, it is also not a routine motion to box out an opponent or to gain body position,” an accompanying video explains, according to Gavin Lee of Pro Hockey Rumors. “Having just been involved in a shoving match with Dahlin that knocked him into the net, Matthews aggressively retaliates by raising his stick significantly and creating this contact. This is a high, forceful cross-check that makes contact with an opponent’s neck with sufficient force to merit supplemental discipline.”
Matthews has no lengthy disciplinary history, and Dahlin was not injured on the play.
“It’s hockey,” Dahlin said of the matter after the game, per Sean Leahy of NBC Sports. “You know, things happen out there, it goes fast. It was intense. So I’m fine. I’m just happy we won. I’m not too worried about that stuff.”
The 37-17-5 Maple Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division standings with 79 points, two points ahead of the fourth-place Boston Bruins. Toronto hosts the Dallas Stars on Tuesday and the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
As noted by ESPN stats, Matthews leads the league with 45 goals and is fifth with 77 points on the season.