John Tavares, Matt Moulson and rookie Michael Grabner all scored their 20th goal of the season and the New York Islanders got some revenge against the injury-depleted Pittsburgh Penguins with their sticks and their fists in a fight-filled 9-3 victory on Friday night.
Just nine days after Brent Johnson beat New York 3-0 and knocked out Rick DiPietro in a one-punch fight that left the franchise goalie with broken bones in his face, the Islanders responded with four goals in the first period and four more in the second — with an all-out brawl in the middle of the offensive outburst.
That was just the appetizer for a third-period donnybrook — in which Johnson fought again — that caused a delay of about 15 minutes. With multiple ejections, both benches had only a handful of players on them for the final 12-plus minutes.
New York chased Johnson 3:46 into the second period when callup enforcer Micheal Haley made it 6-0 on the Islanders' 16th shot. As Johnson skated to the backup goalie seat in the tunnel leading to the Penguins' dressing room, he was showered with an avalanche of boos from the unusually large crowd that clearly remembered what he did to DiPietro.
But his night wasn't over. Johnson returned at the start of the third period and got bowled over 1:19 in when Grabner was knocked into him by a hard hit from Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik.
The second huge brawl broke out at 4:47, and Haley had two fights in the melee — first with Max Talbot and then with Johnson after the goalie skated out toward the blue line. Haley charged after him, and both players dropped their gloves and started punching. Eric Godard was also involved, trying to protect the Penguins' netminder.
Haley became an instant favorite among the 12,888 in attendance, who probably never heard of him before Friday. But they chanted his name every time there was another dustup, long after he was sent to the dressing room.
The second major uprising was sparked by New York enforcer Trevor Gillies' elbow that left Eric Tangradi prone on the ice. Tangradi was recalled on Friday from Wilkes Barre/Scranton of the AHL. Godard and Haley, who came up from AHL Bridgeport on Friday, were both ejected with double game misconducts.
Pittsburgh's Craig Adams and Gillies were also booted from the game. Johnson was forced to remain in the net and heard boos and derisive chants during the final minutes.
Travis Hamonic, Jesse Joensuu, and P.A. Parenteau added goals for the Islanders, who earned their second win in two days after beating Montreal on the road in a shootout on Thursday night. Mikko Koskinen earned both wins — his first two in the NHL.
Moulson and Grabner both added second goals to give them a team-leading 21 as the Islanders broke out with their highest-scoring game of the season. Grabner provided the final punch with a short-handed breakaway goal with 2:09 remaining in the game.
Kris Letang, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy scored power-play goals for Pittsburgh, which won at home in overtime against Los Angeles on Thursday and will play at the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon. It hardly mattered in this one that the Penguins were again without All-Stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
The melee in the second period came when Matt Martin jumped Talbot in the neutral zone. The Islanders had made Talbot a marked man because of his hit against Blake Comeau in the previous game that has left the Islanders forward sidelined since with a concussion.
Martin's actions sparked fights between unlikely brawlers Josh Bailey of the Islanders and Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis, Hamonic and Penguins forward Mike Rupp, and another matchup of Martin and Deryk Engelland.
Bailey was ejected following his first NHL fight along with teammates Martin and Hamonic, and Pittsburgh's Engelland, Rupp and Dupuis. Martin was also hit with an instigator penalty and a separate 10-minute misconduct.
Marc-Andre Fleury allowed two goals on nine shots in 16 minutes, 14 seconds of action in the second period. Johnson then returned for his rough third period. He was slow in getting back to his skates after being down in a snow-angel position for a few moments after being hit by Grabner.
Notes: Haley, who played in his third career NHL game, had 144 penalty minutes in 50 games at Bridgeport this season. ... In addition to the absence of Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins were also without forwards Matt Cooke (suspension), Arron Asham (upper body), Mike Comrie (hip), Chris Kunitz (lower body), Mark Letestu (lower body). ... The Penguins hadn't allowed nine goals since an 9-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 8, 2003.