Things got ugly during Pittsburgh’s 3-1 win over Florida on the weekend at Consol — the two teams combined for 76 penalty minutes — and that’s set the stage for tonight’s rematch in Sunrise.
“They started off pretty hard and were firing pucks and finishing every hit,” Sidney Crosby said of Florida’s spirited effort, per the Herald. “Both teams got into it pretty early.”
The ugliest incident of the game came late in the first period, when Willie Mitchell lost the plot during a scrap with Pens defenseman Kris Letang and hit Letang with his own helmet:
Surprisingly, Mitchell wasn’t ejected from the contest and, perhaps even more surprisingly, has yet to be disciplined by the NHL (no suspension nor fine to date.)
The Mitchell-Letang fracas wasn’t the only feud played out on Saturday, though. Jussi Jokinen got into it with Evgeni Malkin, and Dave Bolland got a pretty healthy slash in on Sidney Crosby.
“We’re lucky we get to play them again on Monday,” defenseman Erik Gudbranson told the Herald. “We have to find a way to win.”
Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and Florida Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell sparred late in the first period of tonight’s game. As officials stepped in to try and break up the fight, Mitchell grabbed Letang’s helmet off the ice and attempted to hit the Penguins defenseman with it.
You can see that below:
That’s not the only incident in what’s turned into a heated game between these two squads. Sidney Crosby briefly left the contest after being slashed on the hand by Dave Bolland, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe.
Steve Downie was fuming in the first period and got vocal with the Panthers’ bench. He later fought Erik Gudbranson, which earned Downie a 10-minute misconduct.
Pittsburgh had a 2-1 lead through 40 minutes with all three goals coming in the first 7:31 minutes of the contest. In the 32:29 minutes that followed, the teams accumulated a collective 68 penalty minutes.
Is it a Stanley Cup hangover? Because the Kings played 26 playoff games last season, including three Game 7s.
Is it the loss of Willie Mitchell and Slava Voynov on the back end? Because those two were vital parts of last year’s championship team.
Is it a reluctance to play the physical brand of hockey that’s brought the Kings so much success? Because that’s not an easy way to play.
Is it bad luck? Because the Kings have badly outshot their opponents in three of their recent defeats.
Whatever it is, Los Angeles enters tonight’s home game against the Blues with five losses out of six and a rather modest 15-11-6 record.