Toronto Maple Leafs forward Clifford suspended one game for boarding Colton

TORONTO, ON - MAY 2: Jan Rutta #44 of the Tampa Bay Lightning retaliates against Kyle Clifford #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during Game One of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on May 2, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario,

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kyle Clifford has been given a one-game suspension for a boarding incident in Toronto’s playoff-opening win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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.

The Tampa forward went face-first into the glass, but he escaped serious injury.

PREVIOUS: Maple Leafs blank 2-time champion Tampa Bay in series opener

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.