NEW YORK — Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton was suspended for 15 games without pay by the NHL on Saturday for punching and injuring unsuspecting Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik.
Thornton went after Orpik during a stoppage in play Dec. 7, slew-footing him to the ice and punching him twice. Orpik sustained a concussion and was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Earlier, Orpik hit Boston’s Loui Eriksson, knocking him out of the game with a concussion.
Thornton was assessed a match penalty.
Orpik hasn’t played since the game.
“This cannot be described as a hockey play that went bad, or do we consider this a spontaneous reaction to an incident that just occurred,” NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan said in the video announcing the suspension.
“It is our view that this was an act of retribution for an incident that occurred earlier in the game, the result of this action by Thornton was a serious injury to Orpik.”
The suspension will cost Thornton $84,615. He served three games of the ban before the length of the suspension was determined.
FLAMES 2, SABRES 1: Paul Byron and Matt Stajan scored as Calgary started a five-game trip with an overtime victory at Buffalo.
Karri Ramo made 26 saves for the Flames, who have won their last three away games.
Matt Moulson scored for the Sabres while Jhonas Enroth made 24 saves in the loss.
Stajan’s overtime winner came just 42 seconds into the period, as his wrist shot beat Enroth to the goalie’s left. Byron had two points against the team that drafted him in 2007.
The teams were scoreless in the third period when Zemgus Girgensons made a strong rush down the right side of the Flames’ zone before sliding a backhand pass into the slot. Moulson shot it by Ramo at the 5:40 mark for his 11th goal of the season and his first in six games.
Calgary tied the game less than three minutes later when defenseman Chris Butler picked up the puck behind the Buffalo net and passed to Byron, who scored his first goal.
KINGS 5, SENATORS 2: Anze Kopitar scored twice to lead Los Angeles past host Ottawa for its sixth straight victory.
PENGUINS 4, RED WINGS 1: Evgeni Malkin had a goal and two assists before hurting his left leg early in the third period of Pittsburgh’s win at Detroit.
DEVILS 3, LIGHTNING 0: Dainius Zubrus scored two goals in the third period and Martin Brodeur made 33 saves, leading host New Jersey past Tampa Bay.
MAPLE LEAFS 7, BLACKHAWKS 3: Joffrey Lupul and Peter Holland each scored twice to help Toronto win at home against the Stanley Cup champions and end a three-game losing streak.
CANADIENS 1, ISLANDERS 0: Max Pacioretty scored 1:51 into overtime and Carey Price made 21 saves for his 21st NHL shutout as Montreal won on Long Island.
BLUES 4, BLUE JACKETS 3: David Backes scored 22 seconds into overtime on a breakaway and St. Louis rallied from a two-goal deficit in Columbus.
STARS 6, JETS 4: Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn each scored two goals, and Sergei Gonchar had four assists as Dallas won at Winnipeg.
TRADE: The Edmonton Oilers traded goalie Jason LaBarbera to the Chicago Blackhawks for future considerations.
LaBarbera appeared in seven games this season with Edmonton, going 1-3 with a 3.28 goals-against average.
MAPLE LEAFS: Forward David Clarkson was suspended for two games without pay for an illegal check to St. Louis forward Vladimir Sobotka’s head.