The NHL issued Washington Capitals right wing Richard Zednik a four-game suspension and a $1,000 fine yesterday for high-sticking Toronto defenseman Daniil Markov above the eye on Wednesday. The judgment, which will cost Zednik $7,291 in missed pay, is in keeping with new NHL vice president Colin Campbell's crackdown on stick incidents, especially those in which players are struck in the head.

"I think four games is harsh, but it's the direction the league is going," said General Manager George McPhee, who participated in a telephone hearing with Zednik and Campbell yesterday. "Some of the stick incidents should be penalized harder than they have been in the past. It's fine as long as it's the same for everyone."

The incident occurred late in Washington's 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs and on what was otherwise an excellent night for Zednik. Playing for the first time since missing 10 games with a shoulder injury, the 23-year-old recorded a goal and an assist and was flying around the ice with linemates Jan Bulis and James Black.

But about six minutes into the third period, Markov cross-checked Zednik but did not draw a penalty. In retaliation, Zednik followed Markov toward the play and hooked him in the face with his stick, opening a gash above his right eye. Markov had to leave the ice to get three stitches but played in Toronto's game against Buffalo last night.

Markov seemed unconcerned about Zednik's punishment, the first suspension in Zednik's two-year NHL career.

"I don't know why I should care," Markov said. "He was mad at me, and I was mad at him."

The incident reminded McPhee of his own lone NHL suspension, a four-game enforced vacation for taking a baseball-style whack at Greg Gilbert. Gilbert had hit him from behind, McPhee said, sending him headfirst into the boards, so McPhee hit him in the mouth, requiring 15 stitches.

He and Gilbert also punched each other later in the game, said McPhee, who last played in the 1988-89 season. Zednik's incident is also "a good example of why fighting has to still be part of the game," McPhee said. "This guy could have lost his eye if Zed had hit him an inch in the other direction. Guys are going to get upset on the ice, and it comes down to what kind of confrontation you want." Back in the Lineup

Left wing Steve Konowalchuk and defenseman Sergei Gonchar played in last night's game after both were removed from injured reserve on Thursday. . . . Defenseman Calle Johansson played in his 800th career NHL game. He has played 682 games with the Capitals. . . . Chris Simon scored his 100th NHL point with an assist on Peter Bondra's goal. Capitals Preview Game: vs. Boston Bruins. Where: FleetCenter. When: 7 p.m. TV: HTS. Radio: WTEM-980. Records: Capitals 6-8-3, Bruins 6-7-5. Goaltenders: Capitals' Olaf Kolzig (5-7-1, 2.64 goals-against average) vs. Bruins' Byron Dafoe (5-5-5, 2.01). Injuries: Capitals C Michal Pivonka (shoulder) and RW Yogi Svejkovsky (ankle) are out. Bruins report no injuries. CAPTION: Richard Zednik hooked Daniil Markov in the face with his stick on Wednesday. (Photo ran in an earlier edition) ec