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The Buffalo Sabres’ injury-depleted goalie ranks were thinned further on Wednesday after the NHL issued Aaron Dell a three-game suspension for body-checking Ottawa forward Drake Batherson into the end boards.
In determining the length of the suspension, the NHL took into account that Batherson broke his left ankle after being shoved by Dell late in the first period of Ottawa’s 5-0 win on Tuesday night.
Buffalo is already missing four goalies due to injury. Dell’s suspension means the team will likely need to sign another netminder before leaving for a three-game western swing starting at Arizona on Saturday.
The play happened shortly after Tyler Ennis scored to put the Senators up 3-0.
Dell played a dump-in to the right of his net, leaving the puck for defenseman Mattias Samuelsson. With Batherson closing in from behind Samuelsson, Dell stepped into the Senators player’s path and struck him with his shoulder.
Dell was not penalized for the hit. The NHL suspended the goalie by ruling he interfered with Batherson by initiating contact.
Batherson needed assistance to be helped off the ice. The rookie was scheduled to represent the Senators at the All-Star Game next week, with his spot now replaced by teammate Brady Tkachuk.
Batherson had scored his team-leading 13th goal earlier in the period.
Senators coach D.J. Smith called the hit dangerous.
“I was just trying to buy some time for my defenseman and step into (Batherson’s) lane,” Dell said after the game. “I hope he’s all right. I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody.”
The suspension will cost Dell $11,250 in salary.
Minus Dell, Michael Houser is Buffalo's lone goalie.
Season-opening starter Craig Anderson, who has missed 32 games with an upper-body injury, has resumed skating but likely won't be available until after the road trip.
Dustin Tokarski has missed 20 games while recovering from COVID-19.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (lower body) and Malcolm Subban (upper body) have each missed seven games since both were hurt in a 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Jan. 11.
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