After being slashed in the leg by Sabres forward Paul Gaustad at the end of the Bruins' 4-1 loss to Buffalo in Game 5, Zdeno Chara unloaded a barrage of punches on Gaustad before being tackled by three Sabres players. A massive scuffle, which included Ryan Miller and Miroslav Satan getting entangled, ensued before order was restored and the final horn sounded.
After the game, the Bruins and Sabres were wondering if Big Z would be suspended because he received an instigator penalty in the final five minutes. But around midnight, TSN's Darren Dreger reported via Twitter that the Bruins and Sabres were told Chara will be in the lineup for Game 6 on Monday. Apparently, Gaustad's slash offset Chara's actions and let the Bruins captain off the hook. Dreger also reported that the Bruins sent a formal, written request to the league to have the instigating penalty rescinded.
But in his postgame presser, Bruins head coach Claude Julien didn't sound too confident Chara would avoid suspension and expressed frustration with what he feels has been one-sided officiating in the Sabres' favor throughout the series.
"I'm sure if you look at the way the series has gone, we'll be blamed for starting it," Julien said of the Chara-Gaustad incident. "We're used to it. It's not a big deal. I know that I saw Chara get slashed behind the leg. It must be our fault, I'm sure. This is playoff intensity. This is the way it goes. You turn the page and move on."
Chara admitted frustration played a role in his reaction to the Gaustad slash, but he did not leave an impression that he felt it was a big deal.
"It's a chippy game," Chara explained. "With that score, it happens sometimes. It was a chippy game. We know we didn't have our best game. We came out flat and they came out hard and desperate."
Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff didn't particularly approve of Chara's actions and felt it should warrant a suspension. He also liked the way his team reacted and stood up for each other.
"I think you do something like that and you risk … and it's a serious risk of an instigator," Ruff said of Chara's response. "You come in and start throwing punches, and I think they gotta take a hard look at something like that. Anything in the last five minutes and it's stupid to do. I like the fact that we had one guy grab him around the knees, the other guy grab him around the waist and another guy grab him around the neck — and the big man went down."
Miller actually raced out to help his teammates, and for a second it appeared that Tuukka Rask, who had been pulled for an extra attacker, might jump in to square off with his counterpart.
Miller explained his decision to jump into the fray after the game. He
and Satan ended up holding each other for a bit.
"Six-on-four, and I knew it wasn't going to stop," he said. "One set of
guys going at it and the way things happened I just got there to support
and I was just going to pick the guy that tried to double up one of our
guys. Miro is trying to probably just pull off one of our guys on their
guy but any advantage you can get it's going to swing and I was trying
to get in there an help out."
Ruff, who was never afraid of a dustup in his playing days, could be seen at the edge of the Sabres' bench, screaming at Chara and the Bruins.
"I wanted to get out there," Ruff said with a laugh. "I wasn't worried about the goalie. You get in a situation like that, everyone knows the rules and you can't start slugging like that, and that's exactly what Chara was doing. So our response was good to that play."