Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights fans alike were treated to the fight they were waiting for at the end of Game 3 on Sunday night. After days of verbal jabs and glares from the opposing benches, Evander Kane and Ryan Reaves finally dropped the gloves with minutes left in the contest -- a devastating 6-3 loss for Team Teal.
But the beef between Kane and Reaves isn’t exclusive to this first-round playoff series. And even though the two finally got to throw haymakers on Sunday, this likely isn’t the end of the saga either.
Keep in mind, mutual dislike such as this develops over many years. Kane and Reaves have had that healthy level of animosity toward each other for more than a decade, dating back to when they both played against each other in the Western Hockey League (Kane played for the Vancouver Giants and Reaves played for the Brandon Wheat Kings).
That distaste for one another then continued into both skaters’ NHL careers. The two exchanged a few jabs back in 2017 during a matchup between the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues. The confrontation led to a TV split-screen shot of the two continuing to jaw at each other from their respective benches, not unlike we’ve seen during the current Sharks-Knights series.
Fast-forward to present day and both skaters are on different teams, but the hostility is still alive and well -- and had been growing to a fever pitch leading up to the Game 3 throwdown. With the Golden Knights bumping the Sharks from last year’s playoffs and other teams in the Pacific Division having down seasons, the Vegas squad has quickly evolved into one of San Jose’s most contentious rivals.
Ahead of the Round 1 matchup, Kane said of Knights: “We’re not going to be inviting each other over for Sunday night dinner.”
Kane ended up fighting Reaves on a Sunday night, instead.
Evander Kane and Ryan Reaves finally fight after chirping all night pic.twitter.com/Rla9W0ktX4— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 15, 2019
The war of words only adds fuel to the fire, whether it be on-ice chirps or cutting jabs told to the media. Kane has referred to Reaves as the Knights’ “babysitter” and Reaves has quipped that Kane doesn’t stand so tall when he isn’t on the ice. The two needled each other from their respective benches in Game 1 last week and finally dropped their gloves in Game 3.
Sunday’s bout isn’t likely the end of this roast-fest, either. Reaves kept the comments flowing after the Knights took Game 3 of the series by attacking Sharks’ center Joe Thornton’s age in regard to No. 19's check to Tomas Nosek’s head. As you may recall, Thornton and Reaves had a few run-ins during the regular season as well.
[RELATED: What we learned in Sharks' Game 3 loss]
Oh boy. Ryan Reaves on Thornton’s reply to the Nosek hit: “I’ve got a buddy with a grandpa who’s going through the same thing. He can’t see very well because he’s getting old. Needs glasses. If he gets suspended he’s going to have a hard time seeing from the press box” #VegasBorn— Justin Emerson (@J15Emerson) April 15, 2019
It's possible Kane will stand up for his teammate, whether that be verbally or on the ice. But Sharks fans sure hope Kane doesn't do anything that will get him into trouble or cause him to miss game action.
Heck, at the very least you can say this series isn’t boring.