Carolina’s Eric Staal and Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf engaged in a rare captain’s fight Monday in Toronto. And when Staal got the puck in an empty-net scenario late in the game, he took a nasty shot – literally – at Phaneuf to underscore his distaste for him.
Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal had already showed his lack of affection for Maple Leafs counterpart Dion Phaneuf Monday night when the two players fought early in the third period at Air Canada Centre. And when Staal had the puck and an empty net to shoot at in the dying moments of the Canes’ 4-1 win, he underscored his distaste for Toronto’s captain with a merciless slap shot directly at him.
Staal just as easily could’ve scored an empty-netter with a wrist shot, but with Phaneuf standing directly in front of the Leafs’ cage, his decision to unload with all his might spoke volumes of his lack of concern for Phaneuf’s safety:
That extra little stare Staal gave to Phaneuf was the former telling the latter he hadn’t taken that shot by mistake, and that Phaneuf’s check against Jordan Staal (which had triggered their fight) wasn’t water under the bridge. And although the Leafs and Canes won’t have the playoffs to play for the rest of this season, the next time the teams square off (Feb. 20 in Carolina), you can bet neither side will have forgotten Monday night’s events.