It’s become commonplace in the modern NHL: a two-goal deficit means its time to do some duking. That’s not new, nor is it changing all that quickly.
Those fights often break out in predictable, WWE-like fashion. Tuesday night, the Boston Bruins didn’t disappoint in a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The B’s shot to channel their inner Big and Bad. Instead, they wound up Busted Bullies, accruing 82 penalty minutes and a blitz of misconduct penalties highlighted by a disqualification for coach Claude Julien in a 4-1 loss.
The final result was a couple folding-chair whacks away from full-on Tuesday Night Raw.
“I really wish I knew,” Julien said of what prompted his dismissal. “They announced the misconduct to Lucic and I just shook my head. I guess that was the merit for being kicked out.”
Julien’s departure marked the end of a turbulent ride that included multiple fights –– only some of which were consensual –– and an onslaught of poorly timed penalties by the Bruins.
It started with the Bruins trailing 2-0 in the second. Shawn Thornton tried obliging his enforcing duties first, assumedly saying some things to Tim Gleason about his mamma and her dietary habits –– or something. The effort failed to court the Canes’ defenseman into a fist-first flamenco, though.
The unfriendly discourse was just the opening act. Captain Zdeno Chara awoke the angry bear buried in the Bruins’ bellies with 5:41 left in the second, lashing through a crowd of Canes’ players and latching onto defenseman Jay Harrison.
Harrison had been jawing with Nathan Horton around the circumference of the scrum, when suddenly a barrage of fists fell down on him from Chara’s 6-foot-9 frame. Chara gave Harrison the rag-doll ride of his life while billowing down a flurry of punches on the back of Harrison’s head.
“I just saw some engagement,” Chara said. “Nathan [Horton] was involved, and obviously, I was trying to stick up for him. So I ran in and it just happened.”
The outburst earned Chara a two-minute instigating minor, a five-minute fighting major, and a 10-minute misconduct. Tuukka Rask earned two minutes for leaving his crease to jaw with Cam Ward. Nathan Horton earned a 120-second sin-bin break for roughing. The result was two minutes of 5-on-3 time for the Canes.
The episode didn’t have the jolting effect Chara might’ve hoped. Maybe it was because the B’s lost their captain for 17 minutes on penalties. Maybe it was because they had to kill an immediate 5-on-3, then another power-play chance when Dennis Seidenberg went off for interference two minutes later.
The B’s killed the penalties fine, but floundered on a man-up chance of their own at the end of the second. To open the third, they managed four meager shots in the first 10 minutes.
With Chara still standing idly in the penalty box, Milan Lucic tried again to jump the B’s stalled battery. Lucic tried picking a fight with Gleason, who again refused, and wound up in a brief skirmish with Bryan Allen.
That shoving match became a sideshow to a lengthy battle between Chris Kelly and Brandon Sutter. Kelly earned the easy win, knocking Sutter on his rear with a landed right hand. It was Kelly’s first fight since 2005, and only the third of his career.
This go-round worked out better for the B’s, who went on an immediate power play thanks to a Gleason minor penalty. Rich Peverley snapped the squad’s streak of 23 straight failed conversions with a wrister through a Marchand screen –– perhaps the biggest afterthought in the history of regular-season hockey.
The B’s were on the comeback trail. Then, suddenly they were facing four minutes of man-down misadventures thanks to Horton.
The first-line winger jumped Gleason in the Canes’ zone shortly after Peverley’s goal, pelting him with a series of punches and pulling his jersey over his head. Gleason didn’t appear to get off a single jab, nor did it look like he wanted to.
Horton was not made available to the press after the game.
“I just saw the replay where there was some stick work, and [Horton] turned around and went back at him,” Julien said. “[Gleason] didn’t engage, but [Horton] decided to stay in battle.”
The thrashing thrilled the TD Garden crowd. It also put the Bruins on the PK for four minutes with 8:30 to play, and earned Horton a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
Eighteen seconds into the PK, Chara was called for a high stick. Before the puck dropped on the 5-on-3, Brad Marchand was tossed for reasons still unknown to him.
Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu both scored power-play goals, and Julien was given an early exit. A tight 2-1 game had become a joke in a matter of minutes.
“I think you want to be emotionally involved,” Chara said. “You want to be physical but in the same time, you want to be in control. So those are two things you have to balance.”
Julien expressed some displeasure with the officiating postgame, specifically with the high-sticking call on Chara in the third. Still, the coach acknowledged his team lost control, and refused to pin blame on the officiating crew for the penalty parade.
“We have to take responsibility for our own actions here,” Julien said. “What I see is frustration setting in, and the minute we started getting frustrated, we lose focus of our game and then it gets worse and worse.”