Bruins, Stars stir up old memories
"BOSTON â€” Marquess of Queensberry rules have changed since Feb. 26, 1981, when the Bruins and the Stars put up a record 392 penalty minutes on 84 calls.
Thursday night at TD Garden, the Bruins and Stars set what has to be an NHL record for the three fastest fights not occurring at the same time â€” four seconds.
Less than two minutes after the three-bout fight card, the Bruins chased their former future in net, as Andrew Raycroft was pulled after letting the first two shots slip through for goals in a 6-3 Boston victory that pleased a late-arriving sellout crowd of 17,565.
If rush-hour traffic wasn't maddening enough on its own, Thursday's logjam deprived many fans of witnessing a blast from the past.
"Watching tonight, it looked like some bad blood from a prior incident," said former Bruin Steve Kasper, a stalwart center in his day whose unlikely fight with Minnesota North Stars center Bobby Smith touched off a bench-clearing brawl that younger hockey fans wouldn't believe if they couldn't watch it on You Tube.
"My recollection is there was just some contact off the (opening) faceoff, sort of a push and shove at each other," said Kasper. "Minnesota certainly proved to everyone that season that they weren't going to back down from anyone. Later that year, they beat us three straight in the playoffs."
In any competition, talent without an appropriate application of the right version of toughness is a recipe for unrealized potential, and in hockey that toughness is the most traditional of all.
Kasper didn't know that Gregory Campbell and Steve Ott, Thursday's first combatants, had history stemming all the way back to their junior careers. But as a rookie Kasper learned quickly what it meant to play for the Boston Bruins.
"It's 30 years ago, right? Thirty years ago it wasn't going in there saying, 'Boy, this is going to be a (big fight) â€” it was spontaneous," he said. "The game was a little difference back then, too. Right or wrong, there were still some bench-clearing brawls. I know I had a fight seven seconds into the game, and I think Keith Crowder fought at the same time. It might have been against Steve Payne ... but no one got kicked out."
Crowder set a club record with 43 penalty minutes in that game, something impossible to achieve by modern officiating standards. The "three-fight equals game misconduct" rule alone makes Crowder's record unattainable.
In the modern NHL, fighting happens rather regularly but is heavily policed. Ironically, it's one of the reasons the Bruins and Dallas were able to stage three fights over the opening four seconds of play.
Ott had bloodied Campbell badly with a short left, so when the puck dropped a second time (the clock showed 19:59)
Shawn Thornton pummeled Krystofer Barch. That one evened the score, and two more seconds later (19:57 showing on the clock) Adam McQuaid and Brian Sutherby fought with McQuaid scoring a knockdown to the delight of the roaring crowd.
"I definitely didn't think something like that was going to happen," said Brad Marchand. "They've got some guys who like to run around a bit and shoot their mouth off, but it's very rare. Sometimes teams come in and think that they can intimidate you, but when guys step up like they did today it's great to see."
The Bruins were just about as explosive with the puck. Still in the first minute, Milan Lucic scored his team-leading 21st goal (35 seconds in), and at 1:20 Patrice Bergeron scored his first of two on set-ups from Marchand. The first of those chased
Raycroft from the nets in favor of Kari Lehtonen, whom Thornton made look bad with a short-side goal at 16:01.
Boston defenseman Andrew Ference beat down Adam Burish in the fourth and final fight at 3:51, and it was 4-0 after one period.
The Stars also had scoring chances, but Tuukka Rask (30 saves) was excellent when he had to be.
Predictably ragged play in the second and third periods allowed Dallas to make a game of it. Brendan Morrow made it 4-2 just 45 seconds into the third period and Brad Richards made it a one-goal game shortly thereafter.
The potential stinger was McQuaid was denied a beauty of a goal that would have made it 5-0 â€” it was called back on an iffy Blake Wheeler goaltender-interference penalty.
But Tyler Seguin scored a one-timer in the third period to restore the two-goal cushion, and after Bergeron missed a wide-open net he recovered the puck and fed a deserving Marchand for the capper.
Total penalty minutes: 40 for Dallas and 51 for Boston.
The NHL has changed since 1981, so the 30th anniversary couldn't possibly live up to the night in Boston Garden that produced almost 400 combined minutes.
"All I can remember was, obviously being in the fight, but when we were down on the ice, looking around I could see a lot of other legs and I realized there's probably more going on than just my fight," said Kasper. "One thing led to the next and, boom, it was just a long night."
Thursday's long night ended with the knowledge that winger Daniel Paille is facing a likely suspension from the league for his cutback hit on Dallas forward Raymond Sawada. Zach Hamill, the former first-round draft pick recalled from Providence, is expected to take his place when Boston hosts San Jose on Saturday."
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