The NHL Department of Player Safety has announced a three game suspension for Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. The suspension came as a result of interference on Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel.
Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen suspended three games for interference on Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 23, 2017
Rasmus Ristolainen Suspended for Three Games
Ristolainen, 22, was given a five-minute interference major as a result of the play, as well as a game misconduct. Guentzel, also 22, reportedly received a concussion from the hit. Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma was quoted as saying, “I don’t like the fact that he got ejected“, adding that it was an unfortunate event. Ristolainen will forfeit $90,000 due to the suspension, all of which will be given to the Player’s Emergency Assistance Fund. The play occurred in the neutral zone, as Guentzel attempted to track an eventually-intercepted pass. The Penguins went on to win the game by a score of 3-1.
Due to the hit, Guentzel collapsed to the ice, before being helped off. He appeared to have obtained a cut on the play, as blood covered his visor and forehead.
Ristolainen will be eligible to return April 2nd against the New York Islanders. He will miss games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, and Colmubus Blue Jackets. He has participated in all 74 contests for the Sabres this year, tallying five goals and 44 points in the process. He ranks third on the Sabres in points, behind Jack Eichel (50) and Ryan O’Reilly (48). He also leads the team in ice-time, averaging 26:43 per game.
Ristolainen has not received a suspension or fine from the league prior to this incident. The Finnish defender was drafted eighth overall by the Sabres in the 2014 NHL entry draft, and is playing his third full season in Buffalo. The Sabres currently find themselves placed 24th in the league, 14th in the Western Conference, and seventh in the Atlantic Division. Guentzel, meanwhile, is playing in his first full NHL campaign, and has put up 25 points in 35 games (a 59-point pace).