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NHL fines Sabres coach Lindy Ruff for sending out tough guys in brawl

The NHL fined the coach Saturday after Colin Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations, met separately with Ruff, Sabres GM Darcy Regier, Senators coach Bryan Murray and GM John Muckler.

Campbell did not issue any suspensions.

Angered by Chris Neil's elbow to Sabres forward Chris Drury, Ruff sent out tough guys Andrew Peters, Patrick Kaleta and Adam Mair to take a faceoff against Ottawa's Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Mike Comrie.

Afterward, Ruff admitted to telling his players to: "Go out and run 'em."

Buffalo won the game 6-5 in a shootout. The two teams were scheduled to meet again Saturday night in Ottawa and Campbell was planning to be at the game to keep an eye on things.

Drury suffered a suspected concussion and 20-stitch gash on his forehead when he crashed to the ice after being blindsided by Neil at 5:07 of the second period. Drury had already released the puck in the Senators zone and didn't see Neil coming. No penalty was called on the play. Buffalo's Drew Stafford immediately jumped Neil and the two received fighting majors.

Neil defended his hit Friday.

"It's a physical game and it was a clean hit," Neil said. "You don't like to see a guy get hurt, but that's half the battle."

Neil insisted he caught Drury with a clean shoulder check. Ruff complained to the referees that Neil used his elbow.

"It was a predator-type of hit where Chris was vulnerable," Ruff said Friday. "Neil went out of his way to deliver a blow to Chris' head. It was a deliberate attempt to put somebody out."

Murray also argued that the hit was clean and said he didn't have a problem with Stafford's response, but was angered by Ruff's decision to send out Peters, Kaleta and Mair.

As soon as the puck was dropped, Mair went after Spezza and things escalated into a full-scale brawl that lasted five minutes and led to 100 minutes in penalties.

Drury, who scored his team-leading 33rd goal earlier in Thursday's game, becomes the eighth Sabres regular to be out with an injury. It's a list that includes forward Maxim Afinogenov (broken wrist), defenceman Jaroslav Spacek (broken hand) and centre Tim Connolly, who has missed the entire season with a concussion.

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