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
"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,"
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
The Maple Leafs led 3-0 after the first period Saturday, 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 Hahl interfered
Belfour turned the puck over in the final two minutes, but he made
a spectacular glove save on Colorado's Chris Gratton.
Owen Nolan scored Toronto's first goal of the game, and he added an
empty-netter in the final minute.
Colorado went 0-3 on their road trip to Montreal, Ottawa and
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.
Nik Antropov's slap shot from the circle beat Aebischer at 10:15
of the first.
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 best road record in the NHL.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Air Canada Centre Location: Toronto, Ontario
Referees: Paul Devorski, Brad Watson Linesmen: Greg Devorski, Brad Kovachik
Attendance: 19,449 (103.5% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Owen Nolan (18)
Assist: Ron Francis
Robert Reichel (10)
Assist: Calle Johansson
Nik Antropov (10)
John-Michael Liles (7)
(Power Play) Assists: Steve Konowalchuk, Joe Sakic
Joe Sakic (31)
(Power Play) Assists: Paul Kariya, Milan Hejduk
Mats Sundin (30)
Assists: Alexander Mogilny, Gary Roberts
Owen Nolan (19)
(Shorthanded) (Empty Net) Assist: Tomas Kaberle