One of the most valuable things I learned from perlmonks is to always test my assumptions. Before posting a response to a question I always run the example code that I am providing and verify that it works the way I anticipate.
The reply I provided above demonstrates that the perl parser sees the two statements as equivalent. Here is an example that proves the behaviour:
> perl -le "print for @cols = split('|', 'ab|c');" a b | c