Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Bunting ejected for high hit on Bolts’ Erik Cernak in second period of Game 1
By Mike Gould10 months ago
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting received a match penalty for a high hit on Erik Cernak during the second period of Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday evening.
With less than five minutes remaining in the second, Bunting blindly threw his shoulder into Cernak’s head area, knocking the Lightning defenceman down to the ice. Tampa Bay led 4–2 at the time of the incident.
Corey Perry and Brayden Point both scored during Bunting’s penalty time to put the Lightning up 6–2 heading into the second intermission. Cernak did not return to Game 1, nor did fellow injured Tampa Bay skaters Victor Hedman and Mikey Eyssimont; Hedman and Cernak are two of Tampa Bay’s most relied-upon minute-munchers on defence.
Ross Colton and Calle Jarnkrok subsequently traded goals in the third period to make it 7–3 Tampa Bay, which remains the score with five minutes remaining in regulation time. If the score holds, the Lightning will take a 1–0 series lead.
Bunting, 27, logged 8:32 of ice time and did not record a point before being ejected from Game 1. The NHL Department of Player Safety will automatically review his match penalty to determine whether any supplemental discipline is warranted.
Through 82 games with the Maple Leafs during the 2022–23 regular season, Bunting collected 23 goals and 49 points. The Scarborough, Ont. product is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer when his current contract with the Maple Leafs expires.
The Maple Leafs and Lightning are slated to return to action on Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. ET for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series at Scotiabank Arena. The two teams previously met in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the Lightning advancing after a 2–1 road victory in Game 7.
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