There will be plenty of intrigue in San Jose on Monday night when the St. Louis Blues travel to face the Sharks for Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
The Blues claimed a 3-0 win in Game 2 Saturday, evening the series 1-1, but before the teams skated off the ice, there were two fights and 88 penalty minutes handed out.
Both teams were upset with what they termed cheap shots. Sharks coach Todd McLellan was especially irked by a punch delivered by Vladimir Sobotka on Dominic Moore, breaking Moore's nose.
"It depends what you're talking about," McLellan said when asked for his thoughts. "If you're talking about the instigator, the sucker punch, the elbow to the head, the broken nose ... what do you think I thought?"
The Blues were frustrated by TJ Galiardi's head shot on Andy McDonald, and by Brent Burns' elbow to the head of Scott Nichol.
"Boys will be boys," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said in a matter-of-fact manner.
At the end of the game, with Sobotka and Moore fighting at center ice, Blues defenseman Roman Polak pounded Justin Braun.
"You found out, don't open the Roman Polak door," Hitchcock said. "Don't ever open that door. Whoa."
The Blues survived the fisticuffs and survived the game, picking up a combined shutout from Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, plus goals from Sobotka, David Backes and Andy McDonald. But it didn't come easy, as the Blues were outshot 10-3 early in the game and didn't take a 2-0 lead until 6:11 remained in the second period.
"They pushed us hard," Hitchcock said. "We grew up to the level of what it takes to win against a team that knows how to do it. We have some more knowledge that we need to compete at this level at this time of year. I thought we really grew up."