The National Hockey League issued a five- game suspension to Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta for his actions during Sunday's game against the New York Rangers.

With 3:28 played in the third period, Kaleta issued a hard check from behind on Rangers center Brad Richards. The New York captain briefly left the game before returning, while Kaleta was given a major for checking from behind and a game misconduct.

"In spite of the fact that Kaleta does not push Richards with great force, he does so at an extremely dangerous distance from the boards ... Richards does not turn his back just prior or make any sudden movements that contribute to this illegal check," said NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan in Monday's video explanation of the suspension. "Kaleta is in full control of this play, and had ample opportunity to make a better decision."

The 26-year-old winger is no stranger to supplemental discipline, having been given a four-game ban for an illegal hit on Flyers forward Jakub Voracek in November of 2011, and had been fined for questionable hits on Devils forward Travis Zajac in October of 2010 and once more for another questionable hit against Tobias Enstrom of the Atlanta Thrashers in February of 2011.

Kaleta will not be eligible to return to action until Mar. 17 when the Sabres play the Washington Capitals. He will forfeit $76,219.25 in salary, which goes into the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.