February 11, 2011
There's old time hockey, and then there's a prison riot. Considering there were more players on the ice than on the benches by the end of the New York Islanders' 9-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, this was as ugly a slugfest as the Montreal/Boston donnybrook earlier this week was gleeful.
According to the official box score, the teams combined for 346 penalty minutes; which was still off from the NHL record set by Ottawa and Philadelphia in March 2004 (419 PIM), but a noble effort nonetheless.
The aggression was a carryover from last week's 3-0 Isles' loss to the Penguins that saw goalie Brent Johnson(notes) send Rick DiPietro(notes) to injured reserve with a one-punch goalie fight and Max Talbot(notes) leave Blake Comeau with a concussion on what was called a blindside hit.
We'll begin the video cavalcade of fun with the more memorable of the two line brawls: The third-period melee that started with Trevor Gillies'(notes) leaping elbow into Eric Tangradi(notes) and subsequent fight; and Micheal Haley(notes) fighting Max Talbot and then engaging in that rare skater-vs.-goalie tilt with Brent Johnson before Eric Godard(notes) leaves the Penguins bench to break it up.
Haley was just called up from the AHL by the Islanders, and clearly found the fastest way to get his name chanted by the locals. Full marks to Howie Rose, by the way, who profusely apologized for saying Tangradi "turtled" when in fact he had his bell rung by Gillies, who was given a 5-minute major for elbowing.
Coming up, much, much more from this remarkable circus.
Here's the earlier bit of chaos at 5:21 of the second period. If you'd like to know what you're about to see, here's a preview:
One more bit of video for you, from way back in the first period: Gillies and Godard drop the gloves for a quaint, 1-on-1 fight.
Lost in all the carnage was that the Islanders rolled the extraordinarily shorthanded Penguins with four first-period goals and an emphatic win in a revenge game. Michael Grabner(notes) and Matt Moulson(notes) each had two goals, Tavares had four points. Howie Rose called it a "statement game" for the Islanders ... although we're sure the Penguins and their fans are wondering what, exactly, that statement was, based on the means to that end.
Suspensions? Godard, without question, will get something significant for leaving the bench and fighting. Gillies and Martin should also wait by their phones.
"I don't know what they were so frustrated about," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Johnny got into a fight with their goalie (earlier this month) who was very willing — and you've got guys like Trevor Gillies who are out to hurt people. The league takes care of all that stuff, and I'm sure they will."
The Isles initially TKO'd Johnson with six goals in the first 24 minutes en route to a stunning 9-3 shellacking at the Coliseum. And the gloves predictably came off several times thereafter, including Bridgeport call-up Micheal Haley likely earning a lengthy suspension for getting in a third-period fight with Max Talbot in one corner and then skating the length of the ice to deck Johnson at the other end.
"We're a family, and Cousin Haley jumped right in," fourth-line tough guy Zenon Konopka(notes) said. "A lot of liberties have been taken over the course of the season, and it can only be built up so much before it comes out. I'm proud of everyone for sticking up for each other."
As you can see in the Daily News headline, the penalty minutes have been changed again to 346.