The Boston Bruins jumped on the Dallas Stars early and held on for a 6-3 victory in a scrappy game on Thursday that included three fights in the opening four seconds.
Boston scored four goals in the first period, including two in the opening 80 seconds, and after Dallas added three goals of their own the Bruins capped the scoring with two more to seal the win and tighten their grip on the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
Despite Boston’s fast start it was the unlikely sequence of fights at the beginning of the game that had the home crowd roaring their approval.
“Usually against Dallas it is interesting in this building,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We got their starting lineups and we knew they wanted to start with a physical edge and we were ready.”
Boston’s Gregory Campbell opened the fight card when he went after Dallas’s Steve Ott, likely trying to settle a score from a game last season when Ott took a run at Campbell, who was playing with the Florida Panthers at the time.
“I don’t think anything was discussed, it just happened,” Ott said. “Both sides were ready. It was a big game.”
That was followed by Boston’s Shawn Thornton battling with Stars forward Krys Barch and then Boston’s Adam McQuaid going against Brian Sutherby.
When the game eventually got underway, Boston stormed to a four-goal lead thanks to goals from Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton and two from Patrice Bergeron.
“Of the last six periods we played, four of them were really sloppy, reckless periods,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. “We know we can compete with [the top teams], but we have to be a little smarter.”
Dallas answered with goals from Karlis Skrastins midway through the second while third-period tallies from Morrow and Brad Richards pulled the visitors to within one of Boston with over 16 minutes to play.
However, Tyler Seguin put Boston back ahead by two goals and Brad Marchand iced the game with an empty-net goal, giving the Bruins a four-point division lead over the Montreal Canadiens.
Flyers 3, Predators 2
In Philadelphia, Ville Leino scored twice, including the late winner, to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators.
Leino’s second goal came with 3:16 left in the game. He went 360? in front of the net to avoid sliding Nashville forward Martin Erat and beat goalie Anders Lindback with a backhand on the high glove side for the winner.
Jeff Carter also scored for the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers.
Marcel Goc and Joel Ward scored for the Predators.
Flames 4, Thrashers 2
In Atlanta, Calgary beat Atlanta to finally win a game in the team’s former host city.
The Flames, who played in Atlanta as an expansion franchise from 1972 to 1980, won in Atlanta for the first time in seven games since leaving the South. Calgary were 0-5-1 in Atlanta since the Thrashers joined the league as an expansion team in 1999.
Mikael Backlund scored the go-ahead goal with about 6 minutes to go, adding to earlier goals from Mark Giordano and Brendan Morrison, while Curtis Glencross scored the late empty netter as the Flames earned their sixth straight win, their longest streak for two years.
Bryan Little and Anthony Stewart scored for the struggling Thrashers.
Wild 4, Avalanche 3
In Denver, Andrew Brunette scored twice to help Minnesota edge Colorado.
Jose Theodore stopped 38 shots while Kyle Brodziak and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also added goals as the Wild won for the sixth time in their past seven games.