SUN Hockey Pool

Phaneuf makes no excuses for skating away

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:25 PM ET

CALGARY -- Dion Phaneuf said he doesn't mind New York Islanders players wanting to drop the mitts with him after that hit on Kyle Okposo.

However, the Flames defenceman said it's his prerogative to not engage.

"Guys are going to stick up for their teammates and I respect that, but I wasn't going to fight him at that point of the game. It was a tight game and it's my decision to make," Phaneuf said yesterday.

DOING HIS JOB

"They've got a job to do and that's stick up for their teammates, but I've got a job to do, and that's to stay on the ice and play the game."

Phaneuf found himself the target of several Islanders in the second half of Thursday night's 5-4 shootout win after hitting Okposo with a wicked open-ice check.

Okposo was on the ice for several minutes and was carted away via stretcher.

Immediately after the hit, Phaneuf tangled with Pascal Morency -- who left the bench -- in a line brawl that included New York goaltender Martin Biron joining the fray.

Later in the game, Flames defenceman Mark Giordano ended up tangling with Matthew Martin, who was trying to get a piece of Phaneuf.

"At that point, he'd already had one fight and didn't need to get into another, so it's just sticking up for a teammate," Giordano said. "Any time you see a teammate go down like that, you can totally understand why the other team would try and stick up for him. But Dion's a pretty important piece to our team, so when guys go after him, we have to stick up for him as well."

The Islanders didn't feel it was enough.

Biron said he'd never seen "Scott Stevens back down" after a similar hit.

"I hadn't heard that," Phaneuf replied. "That's their opinion. I'm not going to fight that player in that situation at this time of the year."

Phaneuf didn't travel with the Flames for tonight's game in Saskatoon against the Islanders, so New York will have to wait until the teams meet March 25 on Long Island for any revenge.

OKPOSO CONCUSSED

Okposo suffered a mild concussion and facial cuts, but was cleared by doctors after a CAT scan, and was allowed to go to Saskatoon with his teammates.

For his actions, Morency was suspended indefinitely yesterday pending a hearing.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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