BUFFALO The unwritten but widely understood hockey code is an interesting thing, and it saw a pair of players observing it in the opening period of the Bruins shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres.
The Bruins captured the 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo at the First Niagara Center, but the game result seemingly took a backseat to the question of what exactly the Sabres were going to do to avenge Milan Lucic for colliding with Ryan Miller in their last meeting.
The Sabres were widely panned for their lack of action in the moments following the LucicMiller incident and Sabres center Paul Gaustad was in the middle of the firestorm, given that he was actually on the ice when it took place.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound center took himself to task for not better supporting his goalie at the time, and clearly was setting the stage to right a wrong with the Bruins in their backyard. That much seemed obvious when Lucic hopped over the boards for his first shift in the first period to a strong chorus of boos, and Sabres coach Lindy Ruff followed by putting Gaustads line right on the ice.
Gaustad, a normal center by position, was even fanned out to a wing position by his Sabres teammates so he could stand toe-to-toe with Lucic. The Bs power forward had additionally made waves following the incident when he openly spoke of how a non-reaction like Buffalo would never happen with their goaltender.
Gaustad challenged Lucic on the left wings first shift, and the Bs power forward obliged, knowing he was supposed to given the hockey code of ethics.
"It was an unfortunate incident in Boston, and I give credit to Milan for fighting," Gaustad said. "It's something where guys don't have to, and he did. I wanted to step up after I thought I could have done more in the (earlier) Boston game."
For Lucics part, he understood no matter what happened with Miller and withstanding any concussions or crazy suspension talk that it was his responsibility to drop the gloves and fight any Sabres that came calling. Gaustad did and Lucic pummeled him with a series of overhand right handed punches before the fight was called with Gaustad getting his face driven into the frozen sheet.
I had some idea something like that was going to happen, said Tim Thomas, referring to Gaustad tangling with Lucic. Then it was kind of back to business. I just feel bad for anybody that has to face Looch because hes an animal.
It was Lucics first fighting major of the season, and the B's power forward was fine with standing up for his actions.
Collision or not and accidental or not, to this day Ill still say it was a collision, said Lucic. When you do something like that youre always prepared to have to step up and fight for yourself. Its great to see that guys arent being stupid and going out of their way.
We had the same situation with Marc Savard and Matt Cooke, and nothing more came out of it than the fight with Thornton and Cooke. Just like tonight nothing more came out of it than a fight in the first shift. I read earlier today people around the league saying what are we going back to line brawls and bench-clearing brawls? It goes to show that isnt the case at all.
Once Lucic and Gaustad had handled their business minutes into the first period, it was then onto the game of hockey for an entertaining playoff-style battle on the ice that ended with the Bruins victorious on the fight card and the scorecard.