Brent Johnson Fights Again, Eric Godard Leaves Bench to Join In
Only this time it wasn't with another goalie.
After getting pulled for giving up six goals on the first 19 shots he faced, the Penguins, down by an 8-2 margin after two periods, decided to put Johnson back in the cage for the third period to finish what had turned into a blowout and three-ring circus, complete with the officials embarrassingly losing anything that resembled control.
Midway through the period Islanders forward Trevor Gillies elbowed Penguins forward Eric Tangradi starting the second line brawl of the night, while Gillies stood in the runway taunting Tangradi while he was down on the ice injured. This brawl included Michael Haley, who was called up from the Islanders minor league team earlier on Friday, fighting Talbot. Following that scrap, he then decided to skate toward Johnson and was quickly starting to throw with the Penguins goalie.
At that point, Penguins resident enforcer Eric Godard jumped from the bench to start taking his own swings at Haley. That action comes with an automatic 10-game suspension, which will probably be just one of a number of suspensions to come from this train wreck of a night.
Following the game Johnson said he was surprised to see Haley skating toward him and that it was "all a blur."
Between this, and Wednesday's fight-filled game between the Canadiens and Bruins, the anti-fighting crowd is going to have an absolute field day.
This is probably the closest thing the NHL has seen to the 1970's Broad Street Bully days when bench clearing brawls were the norm -- along with players going into the stands to beat people with shoes -- in quite some time.
It was obvious from the start that the Islanders were out to send a message -- and to Johnson in particular -- and in the end it's not quite clear what, exactly, that message was. It's also clear that a 9-3 beatdown on the scoreboard wasn't enough. It's somewhat odd they were so hellbent on turning this game into a bastardized MMA battle. On one hand, there's the need to come to the defense of their goalie that is now out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks as a result of his fight. But it's also worth pointing out that DiPietro was only in the fight to begin with because he challenged Johnson -- something he admitted after the game.
Pretty ridiculous display in the end, and something that's going to get the NHL in the news for all the wrong reasons.
How absurd was all of this? When the final horn sounded the Penguins had six skaters remaining: four on the ice (they were shorthanded) and two on the bench. The Islanders had nine. Both teams started with 20. The two teams also combined for an almost unthinkable 330 penalty minutes.
Regarding Tangradi, who was on the receiving end of the Gillies elbow, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said that he passed the first round of tests after being examined by doctors, but that he was experiencing some concussion-like symptoms.
And, yes, the two teams will meet again this year, facing off on April 8 in New York. Byslma was asked if he expected some sort of carry-over in that matchup and he said that this would be a tough one to forget.