Sabres G Aaron Dell Suspended 3 Games for Hit That Injured Senators' Drake Batherson

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 26, 2022

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 25: Buffalo Sabres Goalie Aaron Dell (80) pushes cross crease while preparing to make a save during second period National Hockey League action between the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators on January 25, 2022, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres will be without goaltender Aaron Dell for three games.

The NHL announced it suspended Dell three games for his interference penalty during Tuesday's 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The goaltender lowered his shoulder and sent Ottawa's Drake Batherson into the boards with a hard check behind the net.

Video from the league's player safety account explained the punishment was in part because Dell was aware of Batherson's path, initiated the contact and hit him in a way that was not an incidental collision. Batherson, who suffered an ankle injury on the play, also didn't have the puck and was not someone who could legally be body-checked into the boards.

"I was just trying to buy some time for my defenseman and step into [Batherson's] lane," Dell said, per ESPN. "I hope he's all right. I wasn't trying to hurt anybody."

Batherson was not all right and did not return to the game after exiting in the first period. ESPN noted he "struggled to put weight on his left leg and needed assistance down the tunnel."

Senators head coach D.J. Smith was not happy with the play.

"It's a bad play by the goalie," he said. "He's done it before, we've seen all the replays. Any other player in the game that does that, you'd have to go out there and face the music I guess. Certainly, the league will look at whatever, but it's a bad play ... and it's an unfortunate thing that a young kid's not going to be able to go to an All-Star game. It's dangerous."

Batherson scored his 13th goal of the season during the game before he suffered the ankle injury. He now has 34 points in 31 games and is playing the best hockey of his career this season.

That momentum for the 23-year-old winger will come to a temporary halt until he is able to return to the ice.

As for Dell, he is an ugly 1-8-1 on the season and is giving up 4.03 goals against per game with a save percentage of .893. He also struggled last season for the New Jersey Devils with a 1-5-0 record, 4.14 goals-against mark and .857 save percentage.

The veteran was a member of the San Jose Sharks before joining the Devils.

Both teams have struggled this season with Ottawa checking in at 13-20-3 and Buffalo sporting a 13-22-7 record.