Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting has been suspended three games for an illegal check to the head and interference on Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced Wednesday afternoon.
Bunting was assessed a match penalty on the play, which occurred at the 15:40 mark of the second period of Game 1 between the Maple Leafs and Lightning at Scotiabank Arena. Tampa Bay won the game 7–3 to take a 1–0 series lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Cernak will not play in Game 2 of the series, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper announced in a media availability on Wednesday. This is Bunting’s first NHL suspension, although he was once previously fined $2,000 for embellishment during the 2021–22 season.
The Maple Leafs and Lightning are slated to play Game 2 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto at 7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Toronto’s Michael Bunting has been suspended for 3 playoff games for an Illegal Check to the Head and Interference against Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak. https://t.co/cEqbrMfeIt
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) April 19, 2023
“This is an illegal check to the head delivered to a player who has no reason to anticipate any contact, let alone contact with sufficient force to cause an injury,” NHL Department of Player Safety head George Parros explained in the video explaining Bunting’s suspension.
The Maple Leafs signed Bunting to a two-year deal as an unrestricted free agent in 2021. The Scarborough, Ont. product has scored …
Author: Mike Gould / The Leafs Nation