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SABRES PAY HARSH PRICE FOR VICTORY ANDREYCHUK, VAIVE HURT IN 'RETALIATION'

It was an eye for a knee here Tuesday night.

Justice, NHL style.

If you understand that logic, you qualify for the Bill McCreary school of inept refereeing.

In the meantime, you should know the Buffalo Sabres beat the Quebec Nordiques, 5-2, here Tuesday evening. And paid a harsh price for it.

All-Star left winger Dave Andreychuk likely will be out of service for at least two weeks with a knee injury. Andreychuk injured his left knee in a collision with Quebec defenseman Michel Petit in the closing minutes of a game in which intent to injure appeared to be the only remaining motive for the Nordiques and coach Michel Bergeron.

Right winger Rick Vaive was also shaken up in the closing minutes, the result of a sucker punch from Darin Kimble. Vaive recovered in the Sabres dressing room and may be able to play tonight.

The two teams meet again this evening in Memorial Auditorium (7:35, cable and WBEN) and it could be ugly.

Sabres coach Rick Dudley said he did not know the extent of Andreychuk's injury. He was scheduled to be examined by team physicians later today.

The Nordiques lost Hall-of-Fame right winger Guy Lafleur with what a Nordiques spokesman said was a possible broken cheekbone. If that's accurate, Lafleur could miss four weeks.

The ugliness started with about five minutes left in the third period and the Sabres ahead, 4-2.

Sabres defenseman Dean Kennedy bounced Lafleur along the boards in the Buffalo end and Lafleur's head hit one of the stanchions that hold the glass in place.

Kennedy's hit was late, but only by a step and it did not appear to be a deliberate attempt to injure the helmet-less player. There was no penalty on the play and from Kennedy's position it was not obvious that Lafleur had given up control of the puck.

"I didn't hit him hard," Kennedy said. "I'm definitely not the kind of player who would hit a guy from behind and risk some kind of injury."

After Lafleur was helped from the ice, Michel Goulet ran Kennedy into the glass behind the Buffalo net, Andreychuk was knocked to the ice by Petit and, less than a minute later, Vaive was clobbered.

First Vaive was cross-checked from behind by Ken McRae. As he spun away from that incident, he was punched in the head by Kimble.

Afterward, Dudley directed some harsh words at referee McCreary.

"I think the game got out of control," Dudley said. "I told him I thought it was his fault."

Part of the reason may be that Bergeron sent out his goons to get Kennedy, and McCreary refused Dudley a line change that would have removed Kennedy, and perhaps Andreychuk and Vaive.

Vaive said he knew exactly how he ended up face down on the ice.

"I think I was only semi-conscious out there, but it was Kimble all the way. He didn't go after the puck, he went right after me. Now I know how Gerry Cooney felt."

The manic mayhem took away from what was a well-played game by the Sabres and a spiritless and mostly inept effort by the Nordiques.

Phil Housley had a goal and two assists in leading the Sabres to a season-high fifth straight road win. Housley's goal, a short-handed score which made it 3-0, came in the first period while the Sabres were killing not one but two penalties. Scott Arniel and Pierre Turgeon each also had a goal and an assist. Mike Hartman and Christian Ruuttu also scored goals and Mike Ramsey and Doug Bodger each finished with two assists.

Buffalo ran off to a 4-0 lead on goals by Turgeon, Arniel, Housley and Hartman.

Quebec finally beat Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk when Tony Hrkac scored off his own rebound late in the second period. Goulet made the score 4-2 with a power-play goal midway through the third, but Ruuttu answered with a power-play goal in the closing seconds of play.

Despite all the fine efforts, post-game talk centered on the ugly incidents at the end.

"There's only a couple of minutes left and they're still in the game, but they didn't act like it," said Arniel. "I don't think they even thought about winning the hockey game. All they seemed to care about was getting even for what happened to Guy Lafleur.

"I thought they overreacted. A play like that happens 20-30 times a game. It certainly wasn't intentional."

It's hard to imagine what happened to Andreychuk and Vaive was anything but.

Tonight could get ugly.
Vaive received a roughing penalty in the closing melee, but McRae went for cross- checking, Paul Gillis got a high sticking penalty and Kimble received five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct.

There were several altercations in the game, the most spirited of which involved Kevin Maguire and Kimble. Sabres defenseman Uwe Krupp also got involved in a game-long feud with Gillis after Gillis ran him from behind and took his helmet off with his stick. The Quebec forward -- who did not receive a penalty for the hit -- then turned turtle, literally bailing out when faced with the 6-6 Krupp. Arniel also had a brief fight with Kimble.

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