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Couturier fights Bailey, Flyers add to Islanders’ frustrations

Nazem Kadri vs. Joe Thornton (winner: the fans, loser: Thornton’s beard) wasn’t the only unexpected fight from Thursday. Sean Couturier and Josh Bailey are rising stars for their respective teams, but tonight, tempers rose too high after a hit on Anders Lee, so the two prominent players dropped the gloves.

Maybe part of the tension comes from the stakes, and the frustrations for the Isles, even if the hit really made it happen?

Either way, each team needed this, so the Flyers have to be happy to beat their division foes in regulation by a score of 6-4.

Tensions boiled over a bit later in the game, too.

Both teams really wanted this. The Flyers were coming off a frustrating loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and with this home-heavy stretch in action, a strong push could go a long way in legitimizing their playoff hopes. On the other hand, Islanders coach Doug Weight worried about his team’s “frailty” and acknowledged that the next span is huge for this team, so losing a fourth straight game really rains on the Belmont Park honeymoon.

Such a slump leaves more than a few Islanders fans feeling pretty glum.

Tonight’s results adds confusion to the logjam that is the Metropolitan Division, as positioning looks to be up for grabs. With that in mind, every regulation loss has to hurt much more than even a well-placed haymaker.

Then again, maybe it’s all about shaking off those body blows, as the Islanders and Penguins turn around for another important game on Friday.

Hey, at least someone has to win that one, right? (Eyes weather forecast.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.