By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON There have been plenty of fights and scraps over the lengthy history of the rivalry between the Bruins and the Canadiens, but not many like this.
Two separate line brawls took place including a bloody mess that included Gregory Campbell tuning up Tom Pyatt with 40 seconds left go in the game and the two heated division rivals punched and jabbed their way to 13 fighting majors and seven misconducts in a bloodthirsty hockey game.
The Bruins ended up taking an 8-6 win over the Canadiens that widened their lead in the Northeast Division, and also featured that rarest of events: a brawl between All-Star goaltenders Tim Thomas and Carey Price. The goalie fight, more hugging and play fighting as Price called it than anything else, was the exclamation point at the end of a fight started by Brad Marchand barreling into Steve Wisniewski behind the Montreal net on an icing call.
Zdeno Chara ripped in on Max Pacioretty, Brian Gionta jumped Brad Marchand, Wisniewski and Steve Kampfer paired off and both Tomas Plekanec and Roman Hamrlik tackled Mark Recchi behind the cage. While the refs separated all those combatants both Price and Thomas decided to drop their gloves and masks, and try their own hand at the fighting thing.
Thomas had a big 'ol plan and thought he could use a little strategy against the younger, bigger Price, but none of that worked out very well in the end. In Boston's first fight from a goalie since "Lord" Byron Dafoe in 2002, Thomas didn't quite take home the decision.But he did manage to stay healthy when there was more than a little concern from his coach watching behind the bench. "Its not something you like to see," said coach Claude Julien. "You never like to see your goaltenders get into those kinds of things but I'm certainly not sitting here and condemning him for doing that. Its the heat of the game. They were both willing combatants and you live with that."
Heres Thomas take on the fisticuffs between masked men:
Price was jumping in to the fight. I went off the blue line and he backed into his crease. So then Im like okay, and then he went in again. You just cant let it be an outnumbered situation, so thats what I was thinking when I went down there, said Thomas, who admitted hed fought a few times in junior hockey but not at all as an NHL goalie. He was more than willing to fight. And I had this big old plan. I was going to grab his right and I was going to throw lefts because I know hes bigger and taller and has a reach on me.
I thought I could do a better job throwing lefts in him. When I went to grab, he got a good hold on my right arm and I got nothing. So then I was like, oh now what do I do? I know hes got a big right cocked and ready to come, so I tried to switch arms and get my right free. I grabbed him by the back of the shirt, and when he threw the right I pulled on. I was trying to pull him off-balance and his shirt came off his head and then I fell. When I was falling my left arm came free, but then it was over. He fought with the fighters manners as far as not hitting when youre down.
Both goalies were very wary of the Brent JohnsonRick DiPietro fight that went down last week, and ended with the New York Islanders goalie and former Boston University star suffering facial fractures from one Johnson punch that knocked him off his skates. That meant they were careful and respectful given the cordial relationship theyve had while attending NHL events over the years.
I know Timmy pretty well. I think we were just out there play fighting more than anything, said Price. Neither one of us really wanted to get hurt, but we are out there doing whatever we had to do, I guess.
Whether it was play fighting or the real thing, it added to the heat and intensity that was brewing on the ice between the two teams and more importantly allowed both Thomas and Price to smile about it afterward. When Thomas was recounting the fight with reporters after the game, one of the Bs equipment guys yelled out Timmys a Killer! as he walked by the scene in the dressing room.
Thomas certainly proved he was no killer, but he did show he was another member of a hockey team standing up for each other in their biggest show me game of the hockey season.