Jason Spezza jokingly said he achieved the first Gordie Howe hat trick -- a goal, assist and fight -- in his NHL career but became serious when the thought of a suspension was put before him.
The Ottawa Senators star was called for instigating with 3:36 left last night when he fought Maple Leafs defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo. By the NHL letter of the law, an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of a game calls for a one-game suspension for the player and a $10,000 fine for the coach. But it's not as though Senators coach Bryan Murray sent Spezza out to fight.
"I was not watching the clock," Spezza said. "Hopefully (the NHL) reviews the situation and sees that I took a spear. I was just trying to protect myself. I don't want anybody taking any liberties."
The alleged spear occurred just before the fight. There was a slashing penalty called on Colaiacovo.
"There's no way I would intentionally do that to someone I know," Colaiacovo said when told that Spezza called it a spear. "Whatever he wants to believe, I just felt he skated right into my stick and it was one of those incidents. I don't have that reputation."
Should Spezza get the one-game suspension?
"He came in and got the first punch at me and did start a fight, and if that's the rule, then yeah," Colaiacovo said. "I guess they should live by it."
Both Spezza, who was nursing a set of bloody knuckles, and Colaiacovo said they did not take the fight personally. Both 22, Spezza and Colaiacovo have known each other for years and are friends.
Leafs coach Pat Quinn was confident yesterday that none of his three injured players -- Eric Lindros (wrist), Nik Antropov (knee) and Tie Domi (shoulder) -- would require surgery.
"It was never even brought up as a possibility with any of them," Quinn said.
The six power-play goals scored by the Senators last night is a club record ... The loss was bittersweet for Mariusz Czerkawski, who had not played since Nov. 26 and scored his first goal of the season. "I got so excited, then we lose again, eight goals," Czerkawski said.