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Sabres' Clifton suspended 2 games for headshot on Devils' Hischier

Elsa / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The NHL's Department of Player Safety suspended Buffalo Sabres defenseman Connor Clifton for two games on Saturday as a result of an illegal check to the head of New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier.

The Sabres blue-liner drove his shoulder into Hischier's head with four minutes left in the first period of Friday's matchup.

The officials also handed Clifton a fighting major for the aftermath. Devils forward Ondrej Palat got an instigator penalty, a fighting major, and a 10-minute misconduct.

Clifton told The Buffalo News' Lance Lysowski that he hopes Hischier is okay and that the hit was a "mistake." He described the collision as "mistimed" as he anticipated that Hischier was going to carry the puck over the blue line.

Hischier left the game and sat out the rest of the opening frame but returned and played seven shifts in the second period. However, he didn't emerge with the team for the start of the third and ultimately didn't play in the final stanza.

Following the game, Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said Hischier was kept off the ice for the third period for precautionary reasons. "Just held out, precautionary," Ruff said, according to team reporter Amanda Stein.

Ruff confirmed to Stein on Saturday that Hischier will not play in Sunday's clash against the Minnesota Wild due to an upper-body injury.

Last year, Hischier recorded a career-high 31 goals and 80 points and finished second in Selke Trophy voting while only missing one game. The 24-year-old has two goals and no assists through seven contests this season.

Clifton signed a three-year contract with the Sabres as a free agent at $3.33 million per season on July 1. He played his first five campaigns with the Boston Bruins.

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