NEW YORK - The NHL has suspended Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly five games for his cross-check to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig.

Rielly cross-checked Greig up high after the Senators forward fired a slapshot into an empty net with 5.1 seconds left in Ottawa's 5-3 win over Toronto on Saturday night.

Rielly was given a major penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct.

The NHL's decision came down just before Toronto hosted the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.

“This play occurs well after the goal has been scored, late in the game with the score out of reach, and for the sole purpose of retribution,” the league's department of player safety said in a video explaining the reasoning behind the suspension.

Rielly will miss most of a stretch of six games in 10 days for the Maple Leafs, who are trying to hold on to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

He will be available to return when the Maple Leafs visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 22.

Toronto entered Tuesday's game holding down the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot, tied on points with Detroit and four points ahead of the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.

Rielly's suspension isn't the longest of the season. Detroit forward David Perron was banned six games in December for a similar cross-check on Senators defenceman Artem Zub.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2024.