Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk has ‘tons of respect’ for David Pastrnak after fight with Bruins star in ‘spicy’ Florida win

FORT LAUDERDALE — Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk walked into the Florida locker room Wednesday night after receiving a 10-minute misconduct penalty for his fight with Bruins star David Pastrnak.

He was far from alone. Tkachuk was the sixth and final Panther to receive a misconduct penalty in the final period (along with six Bruins) after multiple fights left the teams’ benches roomy and their locker rooms chatty in the waning moments of the Panthers’ 6-1 win in Game 2 of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“We were just shooting it, just hanging out,” Tkachuk said, “watching a little bit of the game, just talking. There were guys that weren’t playing, there were guys that were kicked out. There were a couple trainers in there. It was like the longest third period ever, so we were just hanging out.”

The scraps livened up the final period of what turned into a Florida rout, setting the stage for what should be an electric Game 3 at the TD Garden in Boston at 7 p.m. on Friday.

“It’s a little spicy out there,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “I think it’s awesome.”

The first two fights were whole-line brawls, as nearly everyone on the ice found a player on the other team to partner up with or got involved with other players’ melees. After Boston’s Pat Maroon and Florida’s Nick Cousins received misconducts earlier in the period, the fights resulted in eight misconduct penalties: Justin Brazeau,Trent Frederic, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy for the Bruins and Dmitry Kulikov, Eetu Luostarinen, Niko Mikkola and Sam Reinhart for Florida.

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“It was a lot of fun,” Panthers veteran Kyle Okposo said. “That one felt like a playoff game. It just is different. There’s not many things in this world where you get to do that give you that feeling, that just pure dopamine release in your brain, and playoff hockey is one of them.”

Then Tkachuk and Pastrnak, the two stars, decided to hash things out on the ice.

“I think it was just their bottom six guys were doing what they were doing, which I don’t think we really liked on our side,” Tkachuk said. “I guess they kind of started it there. I don’t know, I guess wanted in on the action. I kind of just asked him to fight. He said we’ll do it next game. I’m like, maybe we should just do it right now. He’s like, ‘All right, I’m going out next shift.’

“(I) give him tons of respect. It was two guys that aren’t known for fighting, me and him. Two players who are probably more known for the offensive side of the game. Tons of respect for him. We were both up for the Hart last year, and just to see us out there, battling at center ice in a playoff game, I think it’s pretty cool. It’s good for hockey. Both emotional guys that are leaders for our teams that really just want to show that we will do whatever it takes to win. We weren’t going out there to play patty-cake or anything. We were going out there to have some fun in the fight and try to land some punches, I guess.”

Tkachuk appeared to get the better of the Boston standout, landing a right hook (which cut up Tkachuk’s hand, he said Thursday). The two offensive stars are not necessarily known for dropping their gloves, so Tkachuk getting involved fired up the team.

“Yup, it was awesome,” Okposo said. “I love Chucky, and I think when you play against somebody like him for a long time, I don’t love him. When he’s on your team, he’s just such a good person, really good leader and he does things the right way. For him to go out there and do that and Pastrnak to oblige, it just adds a little bit of fire to this series. It was awesome to see. It’s just kind of old-school hockey, and that’s the way we like it.

Now the two teams travel back to Boston for what has effectively become a best-of-five series, and the Bruins have the home-ice advantage. But the Panthers were in a far worse spot last year, down three games to one, and pulled out a win, so they are not intimidated entering Game 3.

“If we can hit the repeat button that, we’re going to give ourselves the best chance to win the series,” Okposo said. “They’re obviously going to make adjustments, and coming out in Game 3 at TD Garden is going to be a completely different atmosphere. It’s going to be a little bit more challenging to play like that. We know that. The only thing we can take is the blueprint, and we’ve got to be ready for a different game.”