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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has announced that Buffalo Sabres forward Jeff Skinner will have a hearing Saturday for cross-checking Jake Guentzel in Friday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

The incident occurred late in the third period, Skinner and Guentzel exchanged words, and slashes after Guentzel seemed to have taken a whack at Sabres’ netminder Craig Anderson as he covered the puck. The altercation leads to Skinner cross-checking Guentzel in the face. Skinner was given a 5-minute match penalty in addition to the 2-minute slashing minor. Due to the nature of the quick turnaround for Skinner’s hearing, it is believed that this is a phone hearing. This means the maximum penalties handed out are a five-game suspension and a $5,000 fine. Subsequently, that penalty is what leads to a Penguins’ powerplay goal in overtime from Jeff Carter. 

Sabres head coach Don Granato was asked in the post-game media scrum about the cross-checking major and had this to say: “Just pretty simple, emotions got the best of them. Craig Anderson also took a question regarding the situation but made a point about Guentzel taking a jab at him. “it wasn’t much, but it was clear as day. There’s no reason to do that, and then that threw us. We got to hold our composure and we got to use that as a learning curve, learning tool for us.” 

Skinner, 30, is in his fifth season with the Sabres organization after joining them in 2018 via trade from the Carolina Hurricanes. Skinner dominated in his first season with the Sabres netting 40 goals. He earned himself an 8-year $72 million extension in 2019, which has an average annual value of $9 million. Last season, Skinner had his best season since 2018-19, registering 33 goals and 63 points in 80 games. Through 27 games so far this season, Skinner has 32 points (13G, 19A) in 27 games. 

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