Tootoo mars Modano's magic night

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- It was supposed to be a celebration of hockey in the United States.

It wasn't.

Mike Modano did his part, scoring two goals against the Nashville Predators to become the NHL's all-time leading American-born goal scorer, but another ugly incident in a league that can't seem to keep itself under control, stole all the thunder.

Rather than celebrating Modano's historic milestone, the Stars were gape-mouthed and in shock at the sight of teammate Stephane Robidas being wheeling off the ice on a stretcher after a vicious cheap shot by Jordin Tootoo.

SUCKER PUNCH

Tootoo saw Robidas coming in to deliver a hit and punched him square on the jaw. The Stars defenceman was out cold, smacking his head on the ice and lying motionless for several seconds.

"Tootoo saw him coming and just sucker punched him," a bewildered Modano said after the game.

"It was a horrible thing to see, but we're talking about a guy who's been known to do that. It was a terrible play."

That the indelible image from this game will be Tootoo punching a defenceless opponent cold rather than Modano scoring No. 503 is nother slap in hockey's battered face.

"To see something like that just takes the wind out of everybody's sails," said Modano. "It ruins the night. To have something like this happen just belittles the whole game."

Tootoo, who'd just taken Modano down with a hit seconds before Robidas closed in, says it was just a case of self-preservation.

"I turned around and I knew what was going to happen, so I was just protecting myself," he said. "Ikept my gloves on."

INSULT TO INJURY

Veteran referee Kerry Fraser gave Tootoo a double minor and then - adding insult to injury - gave Robidas, who never made contact with Tootoo (aside from his chin on Tootoo's gloved fist) two minutes for charging.

The Preds winger says he doesn't know what's in store from NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell.

"It's not my department," he said. "I'll take it one day at a time. I hope Robidas is all right."

He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was alert, speaking and moving all his limbs.

"That's a situation you hate to see," said Stars coach Dave Tippett.

"It was a blatant sucker punch. Those things have a way of coming back around."


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