<
>

Left wing battled with Canucks' Cooke

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The NHL suspended Minnesota left wing
Matt Johnson for five games on Friday for slashing Vancouver's Matt Cooke in the
Wild's 6-2 win over the Canucks on Thursday night.

Johnson will forfeit $32,361.11, based on his average annual
salary and the terms of the league's collective bargaining
agreement. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance
Fund.

His contract called for him to earn nearly $1.2 million this
season.

Johnson has five goals and one assist this year, but he's
Minnesota's primary enforcer on the ice.

On Thursday night, Johnson and Cooke -- two old rivals from last
year's second-round playoff series -- argued for most of the game.
But things really got heated in the third period when Johnson was
ejected from the game after the referees ruled he intended to
injure Cooke by slashing him across the chest.

Cooke retaliated by spearing Johnson in the midsection, breaking
his stick. He was penalized four minutes for roughing and received
a 10-minute misconduct.

The suspension comes at a bad time for the Wild, who are
fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Johnson will miss games Feb. 22 against Colorado, Feb. 26 at
Nashville, Feb. 27 at Dallas, Feb 29. against Carolina and March 3
at Anaheim.