During Buffalo’s 5-2 win over Toronto in Sunday’s Heritage Classic, Matthews and Dahlin battled with one another on separate occasions in the third period. It finally boiled over after Matthews took exception to a Dahlin shove in the Sabres’ crease. After some more pushing, the Maple Leafs forward cross-checked Dahlin in the neck.
Both were assessed cross-checking minors as temperatures rose late in the game.
In the video explanation the DoPS says, “While we acknowledge Matthews’ argument that this is not a cross-check meant to harm or injure his opponent, it also not a routine motion to box out an opponent or to gain body position.” The retaliatory and forceful nature of the cross-check, plus the area where it landed, played a big factor in doling out the suspension.
“It’s battling in front of the net,” Matthews said afterward. “I felt like I kind of rode up his shoulder and his shoulder pad rolled up a little bit. That’s hockey, it’s competitive out there, guys are physical and trying to compete.”
Dahlin was not injured and remained in the game for the final few minutes.
“It’s hockey,” Dahlin said. “You know, things happen out there, it goes fast. It was intense. So I’m fine. I’m just happy we won. I’m not too worried about that stuff.”
As per the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his salary cap hit, the two-game ban will cost Matthews $116,402.50, which aids the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.