- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres wanted Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara suspended for Game 6 in Boston on Monday for an incident that occurred in the final seconds of Game 5 at HSBC Arena Friday night.
The NHL announced Saturday, however, that an instigator penalty assessed against Chara was rescinded, and there would be no suspension.
The incident happened just as the Sabres were about to celebrate their series-extending 4-1 victory over the Bruins, who now lead Buffalo three games to two. An all-out scrum broke out right in front of the Buffalo bench and Chara was in the middle of it. It was clear, however, that the Sabres' Paul Gaustad slashed Chara before he started throwing punches.
When the on-ice officials finally got things under control, Chara was given an instigator penalty, fighting major and a game misconduct. Teammate Miroslav Satan was handed a roughing penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. The Sabres' Ryan Miller was called for leaving the crease, Gaustad was given a slashing penalty, and Cody McCormick was given a roughing and 10-minute misconduct.
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said after the game that he wanted the NHL to review the incident. The rule clearly states an instigator penalty is an automatic suspension.
"I think if you do something like that you risk, and it's a serious risk, of an instigator," Ruff said. "You come in and start throwing punches, I think [the league] needs to take a hard look. Anything in the last five minutes is stupid to do. I like the fact that we had one guy grabbing [Chara] by the knees, one guy grabbing him around the waist and another guy grabbing him around the neck and the big man went down."
Bruins coach Claude Julien responded with sarcasm when asked about the situation after his team's loss.
"I don't know. It all depends on how you look at it. I'm sure if we look at the way the series as gone that we'll be blamed for starting it," said Julien. "We're used to it, so it's not a big deal. I know I saw Chara get slashed behind the leg, but, again, it must be our fault, I'm sure. It's not a big deal. This is playoff intensity and that's the way it goes. You turn the page and you move on. The thing you have to keep in mind here is you have to win a hockey game to win the series and that's what we have to start thinking about."
As the scrum continued, Ruff stood near the door to his bench, looking like he was trying to get Miller away from the fight.
"I wanted to get out there," said Ruff with a smile. "I wasn't worried about the goalie. You get in a situation like that and everybody knows the rules. We can't start slugging people and that's exactly what Chara was doing. Our response was good to that play."
Chara was mum on the incident afterward.
"It's a chippy game," said Chara. "With that score, that's what happens sometimes. It's a chippy game."
During the scrum, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was on the bench because he had been pulled for the extra attacker. Once he saw Miller jump into the ruckus, he looked at veteran backup Tim Thomas, who could be seen shaking his head.
"I had the door and I wasn't going to open it," Thomas said. "It's an automatic suspension."
Miller said after the game that he decided to drop his gloves and get into it because it was a 6-on-4 situation.
"I knew it wasn't going to stop," he said. "I just got there for support and I was just going to pick the guy who wanted to double-up one of our guys. Miro was probably just trying to pull somebody off their guy, but any advantage they're going to get and their guy is going to swing, so I have to get in there and help out."
Rask was on the bench, and that probably was a good thing because once he saw Miller jump in, Rask would have skated the length of the ice to join in.
"If it's a 5-on-5, obviously, I would go there," he said. "It's also understandable when we have six guys out there and they don't. I don't think [Miller] did anything stupid there, but if I was out there -- why not?"
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.