- Associated Press - Sunday, February 13, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL suspended New York Islanders forwards Trevor Gillies for nine games, Matt Martin for four and handed the club a $100,000 fine late Saturday night for their actions in a fight-filled win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Only enforcer Eric Godard was punished on the Penguins side by the league as he received an automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench Friday night to join a third-period brawl.

Gillies‘ ban was for delivering a blow to the head of Penguins forward Eric Tangradi and punching him several times, leaving him with concussion-like symptoms that will keep him out for at least Sunday’s game against the New York Rangers.

Martin was suspended for punching Penguins forward Max Talbot from behind.

Already dealing with a growing number of concussions, including one to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby that has kept him sidelined since early January, the NHL is taking serious measures to punish head contact.

“The actions by the IslandersGillies and Martin were deliberate attempts to injure by delivering blows to the head of players who were unsuspecting and unable to defend themselves,” league disciplinarian Colin Campbell said after conducting hearings in Buffalo. “The message should be clear to all players: targeting the head of an opponent by whatever means will be dealt with by suspension.”

The low-budget Islanders were hit hard financially by Campbell, who said the team “must bear some responsibility for their failure to control their players.”

Godard’s was the easiest sentence to hand out as the penalty for his actions is explicitly stated in the league rule book (Rule 70.11). Although he appeared to be coming to the defense of goalie Brent Johnson, who was charged by New York’s Micheal Haley for a fight, that didn’t alter the punishment.

“There can be no circumstance that allows for a player to leave his bench for the purpose of coming to the aid of a teammate,” Campbell said in a statement.

Gillies will lose $24,193 in salary, Martin will be docked $41,585, and Godard will give up $40,322.

The Penguins‘ rough weekend in New York got a little bumpier earlier Saturday when the team bus hit a car while heading to an outdoor practice.

In the morning hours following the 9-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Friday, the Penguins suited up _ full gear minus skates _ at Madison Square Garden, where they will play the Rangers on Sunday.

They hopped a bus for the short trip to Central Park, but were derailed by the minor accident. The players left the bus and hailed cabs to take them to the makeshift practice.

“It was quite a sight,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “I think the gentleman involved with the accident backed off a little bit when he saw a whole hockey team get out with sticks and gloves in their hands. If he had known anything about last night, maybe that’s why he backed off.”

The Pens-Islanders game produced 346 penalty minutes, 10 ejections, 15 fighting majors and 20 misconducts.

Story Continues →