BOSTON -- The Bruins haven’t had many old-fashioned, knockdown hockey fights to energize the crowd this season. But they certainly had one on Monday night.
Kevan Miller said he was challenged, and simply dropped the gloves with Montreal tough guy Nicolas Deslauriers late in the first period of the B’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Canadiens at TD Garden. What ensued was a flurry of punches from both combatants with Miller at one point disengaging from Deslauriers, and then spinning around to go back for more in a true heavyweight bout:
“He just asked and I said yes,” said Miller. “It’s just survival mode [and] I’m trying to do my best.”
Eventually Miller and Deslauriers stood toe-to-toe firing punches at each other and the Bruins defenseman scored the takedown after landing a couple of big punches on the Montreal forward. It was an emotional moment in the game to be sure, and served to both fire up the crowd and both benches . . . proving once again that a good, old-school hockey fight still is an unmistakable source of NHL entertainment.
Unfortunately for the Bruins it was the Habs that used that momentum to score a tying goal late in the first period, and Montreal head coach Claude Julien pointed to that as one of the catalysts that sparked his team.
“I think it helped,” said Julien. “We scored afterwards, and I think when you look at the kind of fight it was, there’s no doubt it gave us a spark. It was, you know, an evenly fought battle there, and two guys that are really tough. They just didn’t hold back, so it’s the kind of thing we don’t see much anymore. But I think the players and the coaches appreciated what [Deslauriers] did.”
There's an interesting backstory to the fight, as well. Miller and Deslauriers have tangled before, in Buffalo when Deslauriers was with the Sabres, and Miller injured his shoulder as he was dragged to the ice at the end of the fight. He shrugged off the suggestion that was a reason behind Monday night's battle, but it sure felt like there was a little something extra behind some of his punches that landed.
“Not really,” said Miller when asked if his previous fight with Deslauriers -- or his surgically repaired shoulder -- entered into his thinking this time around. “Shoulder feels great, no issues with that, and haven’t had any issues with that since.”
So then let’s enjoy it for what it was: An old-fashioned, old school slobber-knocker with a pair of NHL tough guys in an event that’s becoming more and more of a rarity with each passing season.
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