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GAME WAS NEARLY OVER, SO LEAFS' KORDIC SETTLES SCORE

With 55 seconds remaining, and Toronto leading Minnesota 7-3, the Maple Leafs' John Kordic decided he had his own score to settle.

Kordic tore off rookie Mike Modano's helmet with a headlock Wednesday night then crashed the teen-ager into the boards from behind. Linesman Wayne Bonney defused the incident by tackling Kordic, who tried to get at Modano as he lay on the ice.

The final score remained 7-3 in a game marred by several fights.

Kordic said he had two motives: avenge an incident from last Dec. 16 when Modano was ejected for high-sticking Toronto star Gary Leeman, and get back at Modano for a body check thrown two months ago that knocked out Toronto's Daniel Marois for 10 games with a shoulder injury.

"It was a little pay-back to let him know he can't get away with that kind of thing," said Kordic, whose attack resulted in his fourth game misconduct, for which he will be suspended for two games.

"I didn't know what the deal was," a stunned, but uninjured Modano said. "It was just a cheap shot he took."

Tom Kurvers scored two power-play goals for Toronto. Minnesota's power play was 0-for-4, and allowed a short-handed goal by Lou Franceschetti at 4:31 of the third period.

"It was a flukey goal but they all count," Franceschetti said. While falling behind the Minnesota net, he dumped the puck towards the crease and watched from the seat of his pants as it bounced off Larry Murphy's leg and behind goalie Jon Casey.

That made it 4-2.

Six minutes later, Wendel Clark smashed his fist in the face of Dave Mackey, who had to be helped off and later left the Gardens on crutches. He sprained an ankle and sustained a slight concussion when his body collapsed to the ice.

Canadiens 7, Nordiques 3

MONTREAL -- The feud is on again between the Montreal Canadiens and the Quebec Nordiques. The intensity that had disappeared when Michel Bergeron left Quebec to coach the Rangers has returned along with the "Little Tiger."

"It goes in cycles, there's no doubt about it," admitted Montreal's Ryan Walter after the Canadiens' hard-hitting victory.

"Todd (Ewen) and Marty (Steve Martinson) can play roles for us. They do free up some room for guys like Mats (Naslund) to play hockey."

Ewen and Martinson tangled with Darin Kimble and Ken McRae and, in the view of Montreal coach Pat Burns, "opened up space on the ice" by their presence.

Ewen even managed to score a goal -- his second -- and assisted on another by Shayne Corson.

"I hear Montreal say they're against violence in hockey," said Bergeron, who rejoined the Nordiques this year. "Then they bring up a guy like Martinson from Sherbrooke.

"We'll see the next time they come to Quebec."

Devils 3, Capitals 2

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Three was again an unlucky number Wednesday for the Washington Capitals.

John MacLean scored on a power play at 19:57 of the third period, lifting the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 victory over Washington. The night before, Winnipeg defeated the Capitals, 4-3, when Greg Paslawski scored with three seconds left.

MacLean dug the puck out of a goalmouth scramble and poked it past Washington goalie Bob Mason. Defenseman Tommy Albelin had started the play with a 50-foot shot from the point. Brendan Shanahan picked up the rebound near the boards and passed out in front to MacLean, who collected his 29th goal of the season and 10th game-winning score.

At 19:22 of the third period, playing short-handed, Washington's Michal Pivonka scored to tie it 2-2.

The Devils announced left wing Dave Maley underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair ligament damage suffered in the game. It is not known how long Maley will be sidelined.

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