TAMPA — Anthony Cirelli skated straight to the Lightning bench following a scuffle with Islanders forward Travis Zajac after Tuesday’s 4-2 win at Amalie Arena.
Typically, players from the winning team stay on the ice to celebrate with a head-tap for their goaltender, but Cirelli was absent from the procession.
Luckily, there wasn’t much to worry about for long, as coach Jon Cooper quickly squashed any concerns about Tampa Bay’s second-line center after the game.
“I think he’s going to be okay,” Cooper said. “You know, stuff like that happens at times. It’s unfortunate, but he should be okay.”
The tussle was one of many in the Lightning’s Game 2 win, the teams combining for seven roughing minors, two fighting penalties and 54 penalty minutes.
The physical tone was set early, as Lightning forward Pat Maroon wrestled Islanders forward Scott Mayfield to the ice less than four minutes into the first period.
Later in the period, Maroon dropped the gloves with Islander forward Matt Martin. Both were sent to the box for fighting.
Midway through the third, Lightning center Yanni Gourde was called for roughing after he took down Leo Komarov in front of the home bench. The development clearly pleased the home crowd, which roared as Gourde got up off the ice.
The action was far from over, however, as the altercations continued even after the final buzzer.
Before play expired, Cirelli battled along the boards with Islanders forward Anthony Beauvillier. More bodies came together next to the duo, as Martin crashed into Cirelli and Beauvillier from behind, prompting Lightning forward Alex Killorn and defenseman Ryan McDonagh to step in.
As the three scuffled, Cirelli stepped in to try to break things up. Zajac, however, kept a hand on Cirelli and wrestled him out of the way with help from Beauvillier.
Cirelli meanuevered out from under Beauvillier’s right arm before pushing him away. Then Cirelli pushed Zajac in the chest with his left arm. The two went at it, punches included, before officials could pull them apart.
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“That’s what happens,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said of the physical play. “You know, it’s game to game, and we haven’t seen each other in nine months. That’s what’s going to happen in a series like this ... and (the Islanders are) not afraid to get physical, as well, so it’s a good battle out there, and we’re not afraid of anything.”
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