Lightning's Cernak suspended 2 games for elbowing Okposo

NEW YORK (AP) — Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak has been suspended for two games for elbowing Buffalo Sabres captain Kyle Okposo in the head.

The NHL’s department of player safety announced the suspension Friday, a day after Cernak struck Okposo with his left elbow during Tampa Bay's 6-5 overtime loss. The play took place late in the third period, and no penalty was called.

In a video explaining the suspension, the league said Cernak extended his elbow to make sure he did not miss the hit and that the onus was on him to deliver a clean hit instead.

Cernak will miss games this weekend at Detroit and Pittsburgh. The suspension will cost him $31,892, which goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

It’s the second time Cernak has been suspended two games for elbowing a Sabres player. He was assessed the same punishment for an incident with Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin in November 2019.

Cernak, 25, is averaging over 19 minutes of ice time this season for Tampa Bay. The 6-foot-4 Slovak was a key defender on the Lightning's championship teams in 2020 and 2021 and helped them reach the final last season.


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The Associated Press