TORONTO — Buffalo Sabres winger John Scott collided with Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf early in the third period Saturday and then got jumped from behind by Frazer McLaren as Cody McCormick and Toronto’s Colton Orr joined the fray. Yet Scott got 14 minutes in penalties, a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.
The 6-foot-8 Buffalo enforcer was part confused, part disappointed and part accepting of it all.
“All of a sudden I’m not allowed to hit him anymore. He’s ‘Princess Phaneuf.’ It’s a joke,” Scott said of the Leafs’ captain in a postgame interview on the MSG telecast after the Sabres’ 4-2 loss in Air Canada Centre.
Scott had calmed down a few minutes later when reporters talked to him about the situation in the Sabres’ dressing room. There were no real punches thrown and no fighting majors handed out.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong. I went for a hit. Phaneuf bailed,” Scott said. “Then I get dragged down from behind and I got 14 minutes. It was more a precaution. They didn’t want anything to boil over. I understand.”
“That’s part of the game. Their team is going to stick up for their team and we stuck up for ours,” Phaneuf said. “There wasn’t much to talk about there.”
As Scott hinted, referees Eric Furlatt and Don VanMassenhoven were clearly spooked by the prospects of Scott and Toronto enforcers McLaren and Orr sparking hostilities in the wake of the teams’ epic preseason brawl here.
McLaren and Scott, in fact, both got the double minors and misconducts — and were sent to the dressing room with 14:26 left even though they only got 14 minutes.
“I asked that question, and they just said leave the ice,” Scott said. “What are you gonna do? The ref tells you to leave the ice, you leave the ice.”
Scott and Sabres coach Ted Nolan agreed the misconduct call was made by reputation only.
“This is a physical game enough without going out and looking for fights,” said Nolan. “I think it’s maybe they want to temper the game and get those guys out.”
Among the reasons there was none of the mayhem you might have expected this weekend was because of Nolan’s orders. He revealed after the game he instructed Scott to not engage in a staged confrontation, ostensibly with Orr or McLaren.
“To go out and have two guys talk at a face-off circle and fight, I don’t know why they do it to begin with,” Nolan said. “They don’t seem to be mad at each other. I don’t know if it’s entertainment value. I don’t know.
“I told John I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to see it from any one of our players. Talk at center ice and say, ‘You wanna fight?’ I think there’s room for fighting in this game but not that way.”
Scott had already spoken to reporters when Nolan made his surprising admission.
Even though Ryan Miller has owned the Leafs in his career with a 30-15-1 record, Nolan said he wanted to see a game with Jhonas Enroth in goal. He wasn’t impressed. It sounds like Miller is going to get the bulk of the work going forward.
“Now we know,” Nolan said. “We have one of the best goaltenders in the league. We’re going to monitor some rest time and ride the horse.”
James Van Riemsdyk’s pair of first-period goals were on deflections when he wasn’t cleared from directly in front of Enroth. But Enroth was burned by Nikolai Kulemin’s snapshot at 11:49 of the second period when he wasn’t far enough out of his crease, as well as Mason Raymond’s sizzler over his shoulder with 1:04 left and the Sabres trying to stay afloat.
Enroth gave up four goals on 22 shots, and faced just 12 over the final two periods.
“I wasn’t busy,” said Enroth, now 1-5-1. “When they came down and shot on me, it was pretty much a couple tough breaks for me.”
Nolan said before the game that veteran defenseman Henrik Tallinder had been named an alternate captain after the position was left vacant by the trade of Thomas Vanek. Tallinder wore an ‘A’ last week in Anaheim when regular alternate Christian Ehrhoff was out with an injury.
Said Nolan of Tallinder: “From the first time I said hello to him, you could look in the guy’s eyes and say this guy sincerely cares.”
With the home-and-home split, the Sabres are 10-1-2 (two ties) in their history in the home portion of home-and-home series against Toronto but just 2-10-1 in the road games. The only home loss came on Dec. 20, 1970 in their inaugural NHL season.