The NHL handed Rasmus Ristolainen a three-game suspension. He didn’t expect any punishment.
So, yes, it’s a frustrating time for the Buffalo defenseman.
“They are the decision-makers, so I’ve got to respect the decision they make,” Ristolainen said Friday, one day after the league’s player safety department delivered its verdict. “I didn’t expect anything. Like I said, they make the decisions, and I have to respect that.”
In its video, the league said the onus was on Ristolainen to not hit Jake Guentzel because the Pittsburgh forward didn’t have the puck. The disciplinarians told Ristolainen the same thing during his hearing.
“Their point was he didn’t have the puck, and I need to make sure he has it when I touch him,” Ristolainen said in KeyBank Center. “I don’t know what I can really do different there because it was a split second, half-second. It’s a quick time, and I was skating backward. It’s really hard to stop there, and I don’t think I can.
“Unfortunately, the play happened and he got injured.”
Ristolainen refused to speculate whether he could have stopped had he been skating forward. Either way, he’ll miss Saturday’s visit by Toronto, Monday’s home game against Florida and Tuesday’s visit to Columbus. He’ll return for Buffalo’s final five games.
“It’s frustrating at this point in the year, late in the year,” Ristolainen said. “You just practice, can’t play. You can’t do anything. It is what it is. I’ll work hard and I will be ready when I get back.”