Buffalo Sabres forward Jeff Skinner has been suspended three games for cross-checking Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel.
The two came together with 22 seconds remaining in the third period of Friday’s game in Buffalo.
With the game tied 3-3, Guentzel tapped Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson with his stick after the puck was frozen. Skinner challenged the Penguins forward, with the two players exchanging slashes. Skinner then escalated the conflict with a pair of cross-checks – one to Guentzel’s arm and the other to his face.
Referees T.J. Luxmore and Michael Markovic handed matching slashing minors to both players, with an additional match penalty to Skinner for the cross-check. The call on the ice was confirmed after a brief video review of the play by the officials.
“Emotions got the best of him,” Sabres head coach Don Granato said after the game.
Rule 59 covers cross-checking:
[Cross-checking is defined as] the action of using the shaft of the stick between the two hands to forcefully check an opponent.
A minor penalty, at the discretion of the Referee based on the severity of the contact, shall be imposed on a player who “cross checks” an opponent.
A major penalty, at the discretion of the Referee based on the severity of the contact, shall be imposed on a player who “cross checks” an opponent. When a major penalty is assessed for cross-checking, an automatic game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on the offending player.
The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by cross-checking.
From Player Safety:
Guentzel makes light contact with the Sabres goaltender as the puck is frozen and play is stopped. Skinner, taking exception, skates directly to Guentzel and initiates contact. The players exchange slashes after which Skinner delivers two cross checks. The first is to Guentzel’s shoulder. Skinner then draws his stick back again and delivers another blow, hitting Guentzel directly in the face with force. This is cross checking.
It is important to note that this is not a case of a stick riding up unintentionally as players battle for position in front of the net or come together naturally during the course of play. Skinner initiates an altercation here that ends with him aggressively and purposefully striking an opponent in the face with a stick with sufficient force to merit supplemental discipline.
Skinner has been suspended once before, picking up a two-game sentence for kicking an opponent when he was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
He forfeits $145,945.95 as a result of the suspension. The Sabres forward will be eligible to return to the Buffalo lineup when they visit the Arizona Coyotes on December 17.
Pittsburgh went on to win the game 4-3 in overtime. Referees were T.J. Luxmore (#21) and Michael Markovic (#31), with linesmen Scott Cherrey (#50) and Caleb Apperson (#77).