Torey Krug doesn't fight often, but the Boston Bruins defenseman isn't afraid to mix it up when the right opportunity arises.
Krug and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist exited the penalty box at the same time late in the second period of Thursday night's game at TD Garden, and almost instantly they dropped their gloves and started to throw down.
It was Krug's first fight since Nov. 8, 2018.
“Just tensions running high. I’ve been hit by him many, many times over the years,” Krug told reporters when asked about his fight. “So, just something that happens in hockey, came out of the box and we went. It was good. Hopefully, it energized our group a little bit.”
Krug is not the most physically imposing player on the Bruins, but pound-for-pound he's one of the team's toughest players. Whether it's a fight, a huge hit or just setting the tone with an overall physical style of play, Krug is often effective in firing up the home crowd and his teammates.
"I'd like to think that I can do it throughout a game with a big play, or even a hit at times," Krug told reporters. "Over the years, I haven't shied away from doing it in the past. Hopefully, it's a one-and-done thing for me this season, but you never know. I just hope it energized the group in way , shape or form, and it is what is is."
GOLD STAR: He didn’t factor in the scoring at all, but credit Torey Krug as one of the Bruins leaders that stepped up and showed some attitude in a needed win over the Penguins.
It was Krug that got into a shoving match with Patric Hornqvist in front of the bench, and then continued it with a hockey fight after they both got out of the penalty box.
Krug finished with six shot attempts and a takeaway in 16:06 of ice time, but it was really a team-wide showing of physicality and attitude that elevated the game of the Bruins and got them back into the winning flow against Pittsburgh. Krug was one of the key guys that got them there even as he was an unlikely 5-foot-8 combatant that won his bout with the sandpaper-playing Hornqvist.
BLACK EYE: Evgeni Malkin was pretty invisible for the Penguins in this one. He was challenged early and often by Zdeno Chara in the game and that seemed to render him pretty ineffective after that point against the Bruins.
Malkin finished pointless with a minus-2 rating and had a whopping three giveaways over his 19:21 of ice time. It was a harmless little swipe at Jaroslav Halak in the first period that really started setting things off as Chara grabbed Malkin and roughed him up in the corner afterward. That started the two big-bodied players going at each other for the better part of the evening.
Most times Malkin is going to lose that battle as he did on Thursday night.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins fell down by a 1-0 score early in the game as Sidney Crosby scored in the opening minute, and that could have been a big time problem on another night. But the Bruins were determined to make this a prolonged, invested all-around effort right from the drop of the puck. They did exactly that when they fought back to tie the game, and then go ahead by a goal when Par Lindholm redirected a Karson Kuhlman pass down low.
The Bruins outshot the Penguins 12-10 in the period and overcame the early deficit with some hard-nosed, determined physical play and some digging in by their bottom two lines coming up with a couple of goals in the secondary scoring department. Once they did that they had the momentum on their side.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jaroslav Halak had been struggling a little bit of late, but he pulled together after allowing a bad goal in the first period to the Penguins.
Halak stopped 29-of-30 shots and was brilliant at the end of the second period when the Penguins went on a 2-on-none shorthanded breakaway with Halak making four different saves to keep Pittsburgh from tying up the game. He stoned Zach Aston-Reese at least four different times with point blank chances from the front of the net and never buckled even as the B’s broke down just a little bit.
Halak's performance is a good sign that he is going to backstop the B’s to some good things as he’ll be given the starting nod for a few games in a row with Rask (concussion) on the shelf right now.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of registered hits for Chris Wagner on the stat sheet, which is kind of ridiculous given that the fourth line winger threw at least four or five of them in a tremendously physical game against the Penguins.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I thought tonight was a pretty good first step to getting back to who we are.” –Bruce Cassidy on the B’s overall effort in a 4-1 win over the Penguins.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – There were plenty of times in Torey Krug’s life when he was doubted as a hockey player simply because of his size.
The 5-foot-8, 186-pounder wasn’t highly recruited as a college player and wasn’t drafted by any of the then-30 NHL teams even after a standout collegiate career at Michigan State. It took a long time for USA Hockey to come calling for his services in international play after he established himself as one of the best offensive defensemen in the league after signing with the Bruins.
So it’s a noteworthy accomplishment that the 28-year-old Krug will play in his 500th NHL game on Saturday night against the New York Islanders after many doubted his durability and longevity as an undersized defenseman.
“It’s pretty special from where my career started. It seemed like a longshot, but obviously I’ve enjoyed every step along the way. A lot of good memories and hopefully memory more to come,” said Krug, who has five goals and 30 points in 37 games while averaging 20:34 of ice time as a top-4 defenseman for the B’s again this season. “There are smaller guys that have been flashes in the pan before and haven’t been able to survive the day-in, day-out toll that it takes to be an NHL player. 500 games is a big deal for sure.
“But I’ll tell you what, longevity is still a question in my career seeing how long this thing goes. I’ve enjoyed it every step of the way and all the bumps and bruises have been worth it. Hopefully, I just continue to create great memories.”
At this point, there’s no reason to believe that Krug won’t get to the gold standard for NHL players at 1,000 games after reaching halfway there in the prime of his career. Still, even to get to the 500-game mark is noteworthy for a determined player who's already proven many of the scouts and talent evaluators wrong and underestimated the heart and intelligence that Krug brings to the table every night as a key, core member of a Bruins team perennially in the playoffs.