With less than a second remaining in the Bruins’ 4-1 Game 5 loss at Buffalo in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals tonight, defenseman Zdeno Chara was issued an instigator penalty after he retaliated to a slash to the back of his leg after the Sabres cleared the puck out of their own end.

This could mean a one-game suspension for Chara, although it could be rescinded.

Rule 47.12 states, “A player or goalkeeper who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final 5 minutes of regulation time or at any time in overtime shall be assessed an instigator minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting and a game misconduct.”

And then Rule 47.22 says, “A player or goalkeeper who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at anytime in overtime, shall automatically be suspended for one game. The Director of Hockey Operations will review every such incident and may rescind the suspension based on a number of criteria. The criteria for the review shall include, but not limited to, the score, previous incidents, etc. The length of suspension will double for each subsequent offense. This suspension shall be served in addition to any other automatic suspensions a player may incur for an accumulation of three or more instigator penalties.”

Of course, we all know what happened to Scott Walker’s one-game suspension after he sucker punched Aaron Ward during the second-round playoff series with Carolina last spring. Considering Chara’s pretty squeaky-clean past (amazing for a player of his size and type) and the fact that he was clearly responding to a cheap shot from behind, he should be off the hook.

However, we all know about Colin Campbell’s “dart board justice.” So we won’t know how the league’s going to rule on this until it actually does.