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Rangers – Hurricanes Game 1 starts with goal, huge hits, Williams – Strome fight

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The Rangers and Hurricanes are wasting no time creating playoff-level hatred in Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers. WIthin minutes, there was the first goal of the NHL Return to Play, big hits (that may have led to injuries), and an unlikely fight.

Carolina ultimately ended up winning Game 1 by a score of 3-2.

Slavin scores first goal of NHL Return, Fast gets hit hard

It took little time for Rangers – Hurricanes Game 1 to heat up. You can see the big moments of physicality in the video above this post’s headline.

So far, the biggest sequence happened about a minute in. First, Brady Skjei absolutely leveled former teammate Jesper Fast with a hard hit.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Fast would eventually leave the ice with a possible injury. But, before he could depart, Jaccob Slavin scored the first goal of the NHL Return to Play. Would the Hurricanes have scored that goal if the Rangers didn’t have an injured player on the ice?

The Rangers announced that Fast is not expected to return to Game 1.

Another big hit in Rangers – Hurricanes Game 1, and a Williams – Strome fight

Skjei’s hit on Fast clearly set a tone. Not only were there a parade of penalties, but Marc Staal also landed a big check on Martin Necas.

It’s possible that the Necas hit on Staal inspired Justin Williams to fight with Ryan Strome. You could argue that maybe Williams shouldn’t be dropping the gloves, but the fight was an unlikely sight either way:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Fight: Adam Lowry, extremely brave man, faces Ryan Reaves

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In the absolutely chonky file of “Hockey things I would never, ever do,” fighting Vegas Golden Knights enforcer Ryan Reaves ranks somewhere around blocking a Shea Weber shot.

Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry is known for his two-way play above everything else. That said, he’s drawn the ire of opponents lately with some hard hits. He recently received a two-game suspension for boarding, and wasted little time in showing that he’s not going to ease up on Saturday. Lowry absolutely leveled Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch, drawing something that might be worse than a suspension: he generated the anger of Reaves.

The Golden Knights weren’t exactly being coy about putting Reaves out there strictly to fight Lowry, as Reaves lined up in the faceoff circle. Lowry didn’t back down, either, promptly dropping the gloves and acquitting himself nicely.

According to Hockey Fights, Lowry has now been in 10 fights, now up to three in this calendar year. Reaves represents a mammoth jump in “weight class,” even for a big guy like Lowry, so credit to him for showing immense courage.

Allow me to make this clear: I would absolutely not do the same thing if I was in his skates and gloves.

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Unexpected fight video: Sidney Crosby vs. Matt Niskanen

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As the Dallas Stars announcing crew pointed out, it’s surprising just how much vitriol was on display between the Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins – two teams who rarely play against each other.

Yet as the game quickly spiraled out of control, tempers flared in a big way. Beginning with a fight between Jamie Benn and Tyler Kennedy in the waning seconds of the first period, the two teams engaged in four fights through the first two frames. The tension boiled over the most about 12 minutes into the second period, as Kris Letang fought Brenden Morrow and then Sidney Crosby dropped the gloves with Matt Niskanen.

Check out the unexpected video above. Who do you think won the fight? All I know is that it’s a lot more becoming than some of Crosby’s other scraps, as he didn’t hit Niskanen below the belt at any point.