- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2007

The NHL yesterday suspended Washington Capitals left wing Donald Brashear for one game for his role in a series of fights during a loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night.

The league also suspended Colton Orr, a Rangers right wing, five games for cross-checking Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin across the mouth.

Each player had hearings today before Colin Campbell, the league’s director of hockey operations. Brashear will serve his suspension today when the Caps face the Phoenix Coyotes at Verizon Center. Orr’s suspension would have been twice as long because of the viciousness of the hit, sources said, but he gained a lighter sentence because he is a first-time offender and is in his first full season in the league.

The suspension will be Brashear’s fifth in the NHL and his second this season. He was suspended three games for fighting and leaving the bench illegally during a game against Atlanta in November.

In the Caps’ 4-1 loss to the Rangers, things turned ugly in the second period. Orr attempted to engage Brashear, a veteran enforcer. Brashear avoided him, but the two finally fought later, with Brashear winning easily.

Play became extremely physical in the third period, with Ovechkin and Rangers right wing Jaromir Jagr becoming primary targets. Ovechkin attempted to defend himself, but Jagr did not seem similarly inclined.

The Rangers’ Brendan Shanahan engaged Brashear at 7:39 of the third period, an action he said after the game was in defense of Jagr. As that fight broke up, the Rangers’ Aaron Ward said something to Brashear, who responded with a right hand to Ward’s face. Subsequently, Brashear received a penalty for attempting to injure Orr and was ejected.

With the Rangers leading 3-0, Orr then stepped up his physical play. He caught Ovechkin across the face at 15:40, setting off another fight. Caps defenseman Shaone Morrisonn stepped in to protect his teammate.

The Caps played with a makeshift lineup Saturday because of a rash of injuries and the flu. For the second straight game, the Caps played without seven regulars.

Defenseman Lawrence Nycholat (a goal and three assists in five games) and center Dave Steckel both recalled players have performed impressively and remain with the team.

“They’ve both played very well,” general manager George McPhee said. “They played hard in a couple intense games and demonstrated why that Hershey team was able to win championship last season. They show up and play hard every game.”

Notes — The Caps returned goaltender Daren Machesney and defensemen Timo Helbling and Jamie Hunt to Hershey. No recalls are planned for today’s game, meaning the club is hoping one of the three players out with the flu will be ready to return.

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