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The NHL’s department of player safety issued the suspension on Tuesday following a hearing with Clifford. It described Monday’s incident as a forceful hit to a defenseless player who is no longer in possession of the puck.
Clifford was assessed a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct 6:59 into Game 1 of the first-round series for a hit on Ross Colton.
Kyle Clifford #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs walks to the ice to play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game One of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scotiabank Arena on May 2, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Tampa forward went face-first into the glass, but he escaped serious injury.
Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said Tuesday before the suspension was announced that Clifford’s penalty put the Leafs in a tough spot.
“He’s been around the game a long time and has played that way a long time,” the coach said. “He paid for it in that moment. We paid for it as a team.”
The Leafs won Game 1 5-0 over the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. Clifford will miss Game 2 on Wednesday.
The NHL also announced Toronto forward Wayne Simmonds and Tampa Bay forwards Corey Perry and Patrick Maroon were fined $2,250 apiece for unsportsmanlike conduct during the game.
The three players were instigators of a third-period fight.