BOSTON -- With the level of physicality the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning showed in the second period of Saturday night's game at TD Garden, it was only a matter of time before some sort of brawl erupted.
And that's precisely what happened with less than two minutes remaining in the frame.
After a chaotic Bruins power play that ultimately resulted in a goal -- it was originally called no-goal on the ice but replay overturned it -- Boston captain Zdeno Chara skated toward his team's bench to get a much-needed break following a lengthy and busy shift. Before he could get to the bench, Lightning forward Pat Maroon, who's no stranger to fisticuffs, hit Chara with his stick. Chara understandably took exception to Maroon's actions and a line brawl quickly followed.
Maroon explained his side of the altercation with Chara after the Lightning escaped TD Garden with a 5-3 win.
"The look on (Chara's) face there, I kinda got nervous there," Maroon said. "No, I was just sticking up for (Mikhail Sergachev) there for when he was in the corner. Just trying to do my job. I'm here to protect my teammates anyway I can, stick up for them, and maybe give them a spark or boost. Chara's a well-respected player in this league. I have the utmost respect for Chara. The guy is (42) years old and still playing the game he loves and fighting people. It takes a lot of courage, and he does it. He gave me one, and I was just sticking up for my teammates."
The type of high-intensity, ultra-physical hockey we saw Saturday night is great for the fans, and for players like Maroon whose job it is to set an aggressive tone.
"I love it, it suits my kinda game," Maroon said. "It's big-body hockey. It's fun to play in these kinds of games, especially down the stretch when you're playing meaningful games and you're playing a heck of a team over there that plays the right way, plays a heavy game. I thought everyone in this locker room did a really good job manning up tonight, being physical, sticking up for your teammates, and that's playoff hockey right there."
Speaking of playoff hockey, it sure would be nice to potentially see seven more games of this rivalry in May. If the current Atlantic Division standings hold entering the playoffs, the Bruins and Lightning would square off in the second round, assuming each team took care of business in the opening round.