The Hudson River Rivalry added a new chapter on Monday night. Tensions were so high before the faceoff of the nationally televised Rangers-Devils game, that even the coaches were yelling at each other. Then, literally one second into game, three fights broke out simultaneously.
New York's Stu Bickel, Mike Rupp and Brandon Prust duked it out against New Jersey's Ryan Carter, Eric Boulton and Cam Janssen, respectively, as the fans at Madison Square Garden rose to their feet.
"We have a lot of cameras and we're going to need them," the announcer said.
Bickel socked Carter with two right-handed punches and knocked him on to the ice face-first, causing him to bleed from the nose. Once linesmen finally separated each fight after about a minute and a half, blood needed to be scraped off the ice.
"I've never seen anything like that," Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist said. "We were pretty fired up going out when Torts saw their starting lineup. He changed a little bit on our starting lineup, and I think guys were ready to go out there."
The Devils set their lineup first and put in Boulton, Janssen and Carter, who between them had 252 penalty minutes this season. The six players were each given a 5-minute major for fighting while Bryce Salvador was given a 10-minute misconduct for trying to pull Bickel off Carter.
Before the game, Devils coach Peter DeBoar had anticipated that the intensity of the rivalry would help his team bounce back from a lackluster effort against the Penguins.
“The environment, I think, it will be a welcome emotional boost for us to be ready to play,” DeBoer told the Star-Ledger.
Rangers' Brandon Dubinsky scored 1:11 into the game and New York would go on to win 4-2, clinching a playoff spot.
“I think there’s a genuine dislike there,” DeBoer said. “And that all adds to the environment.”
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