Maple Leafs 5, Avalanche 2

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TORONTO (AP)—Teemu Selanne has seen enough. The NHL must do something about on-ice violence.

Selanne’s Avalanche teammate, Ossi Vaananen, was shaken up but unhurt after being slashed in the head by Toronto’s Wade Belak in Colorado’s 5-2 loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

Belak was jostling with Vaananen in front of the Avalanche net when he whipped around and violently hit the Colorado defender in the side of the head and neck with his stick.

Belak was ejected, given a match penalty for attempting to injure—an infraction that carries an automatic review by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell.

“That has got to stop. I think every team has to have a meeting and talk about this stuff because we can’t let this happen,” Selanne said. “The guys are so strong these days. I know the intensity level is high every game, and the coaches tell us to play hard and finish your checks, be tough, but there is a line between stupidity and playing hard.”

Toronto defenseman Bryan McCabe said Belak didn’t mean to strike Vaananen.

“He was off-balance. The guy tried to kick his knee out and he tried to brace himself and the stick hit him,” McCabe said. “Stuff like that happens. Luckily, the guy had a shield on. That saved him from any injury.”

Vaananen said he was stunned more than anything.

“I didn’t see it coming. We were just battling down low,” Vaananen said.

Belak wasn’t immediately available for comment.

It is the second time this month that an Avalanche player absorbed a violent hit from an opponent.

On March 8, Vancouver forward Todd Bertuzzi sucker-punched Colorado rookie Steve Moore—leaving him hospitalized with broken vertebrae and a concussion.

Campbell suspended Bertuzzi for the rest of the regular season and playoffs and said he would have to be reinstated by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before he will be able to play next season.

The Maple Leafs led 3-0 after the first period, but Colorado scored two quick goals in the second after Belak was ejected.

Colorado’s John-Michael Liles then scored on the power play, and Joe Sakic made it 3-2 after Toronto goalie Ed Belfour received a slashing penalty, giving the Avalanche a two-man advantage.

Mats Sundin gave Toronto a 4-2 lead by scoring on a one-timer from in front of the net with 10 seconds left in the second.

Adam Foote appeared to cut Toronto’s lead to 4-3 late in the third, but the officials ruled no goal because Riku Hall interfered with Belfour.

Belfour turned the puck over in the final two minutes, but made a spectacular glove save on Colorado’s Chris Gratton.

Owen Nolan scored Toronto’s first goal of the game, and added an empty-netter in the final minute.

Colorado went 0-3 on their road trip to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.

Belfour made 32 saves for the Maple Leafs, who remained one point behind Boston for first place in the Northeast Division. Boston beat Tampa Bay earlier Saturday.

After a Colorado turnover, Nolan scored at 7:43 of the first.

Just under a minute later, Robert Reichel put a backhanded shot past goalie David Aebischer.

Nik Antropov’s slap shot from the circle beat Aebischer at 10:15 of thefirst.

Notes

Belak and Colorado enforcer Peter Worrell traded punches in a lengthy bout in the first. Belak checked Hahl into the boards just before the fight. … The Maple Leafs play three of their next four at home. … The Avalanche have lost just seven of 38 road games through regulation. They have the bestroad record in the NHL.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
N. Antropov N. Antropov
Toronto Maple Leafs
Scored at 10:15 of 1st

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
David Aebischer Wpg 23 19