Spezza scored twice, including the go-ahead goal in the third period, to lift the Ottawa Senators over the Buffalo Sabres 6-5 on Saturday night.
“We played with a purpose tonight,” said Spezza.
It was purpose fuelled by anger and revenge in a match-up that had been highly anticipated following the hostilities that had broken out between the two teams Thursday in a game that featured both goalies exchanging punches.
The sellout crowd of 20,040 at Scotiabank Place had to wait until the second period to see any retaliation from the Senators (36-22-4), who were still upset over Andrew Peters fighting with Ray Emery.
Senators enforcer Brian McGrattan, dressing for the first time in 10 games, dropped the gloves with Peters three minutes into the second to the delight of the home crowd.
“That’s how we do it here. The fair way, the honest way. We have the best one-two punch in the league,” said McGrattan, referring to teammate Chris Neil. “I think we sent our message and we won the game.”
Just over five minutes McGrattan and Peters clashed, Neil and Buffalo’s Adam Mair went toe-to-toe. The Senators had a score to settle with Mair, who they believed crossed the line when he brought up the deceased Dan Snyder to Dany Heatley last Thursday. Snyder died in a car accident just over three years ago. Heatley had been driving the car.
Mair felt the game fell somewhat short of the hype.
“I said before it was just going to be another hockey game and it was,” he said. “There was a lot of build up, but that was mostly you (media) guys.”
Heatley had a goal and two assists, while Christoph Schubert, Chris Kelly and Daniel Alfredsson also scored for Ottawa. Emery faced 36 shots.
Like most of his teammates Heatley was extremely proud of his two teammates for going out and settling some scores.
“Our guys did what they were supposed to do,” said Heatley. “Neiler and Gratts did a good job.”
While most agreed scores had been settled, McGrattan still had trouble forgiving Mair.
“That goes beyond sports,” said McGrattan. “That’s really hard for me to swallow as a teammate. It was gutless.”
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff couldn’t say enough about his team following the game.
“I thought we played one hell of a hockey game considering how young we were,” said Ruff. “I’m just so impressed with how well we played. I was smiling half the time behind the bench.”
Henrik Tallinder, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek scored for the Sabres.