Sabres' Connor Clifton suspended by NHL for two games for head shot to Devils' Nico Hischier

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Connor Clifton (75) and New Jersey Devils left wing Ondrej Palat (18) fight during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

NEW YORK (AP) — The NHL suspended Buffalo Sabres defenseman Connor Clifton for two games without pay for what it determined was an illegal check to the head of New Jersey Devils forward Nico Hischier on Friday night.

Clifton will lose nearly $35,000 in pay, and that money will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund, the league's Department of Player Safety announced Saturday.

In a video explaining the reasoning behind the suspension, the NHL said Clifton made Hischier's head the primary target and that the hit was avoidable. It was the first such offense in Clifton's 240-game NHL career, the league said.

Clifton was ejected for the hit to the Devils captain, which happened at the 16-minute mark of the first period of Sabres' 5-4 loss. Hischier played in the second period but did not return for the third.