PHILADELPHIA -- Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby summed up the feelings between his team and the Philadelphia Flyers pretty succinctly after Game 3 of the teams' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
"I don't like any guy on their team there," he said.
The feeling appears to be mutual, as Sunday's game featured three fights, three game misconducts, four 10-minute misconducts and a match penalty among the 38 penalties totaling 158 minutes. When it was finished, the Flyers had a 8-4 victory and a three-games-to-none stranglehold in the series, which continues Wednesday night.
That was only the tip of the fuse that led to a very large powder keg.
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At 12:02 of the period, Crosby took two whacks at Ilya Bryzgalov's glove after the goalie trapped the puck on the ice. Claude Giroux took exception and the pair went visor-to-visor behind the net, and then carried the conversation out near the faceoff circle.
Things seemed to calm down at that point, but as Crosby skated away, he took a swipe at Jakub Voracek's discarded glove as the Flyers forward bent over to reclaim it. That upset Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen who confronted Crosby and slashed the stick out of his hands. That led to pushing and shoving, with Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang grabbing Timonen from behind and pulling him away while Giroux jumped back into the fray with Crosby -- and both players shed their gloves.
While the officials were trying to break up the superstar-on-superstar fight, Letang and Timonen engaged in a scrap that saw Timonen have his jersey pulled over his head.
After referees restored order, Timonen and Letang each were handed game misconducts, as well as fighting majors. Timonen also was given an additional slashing penalty. Giroux and Crosby also received fighting majors, and Voracek and the Pens' Steve Sullivan received matching roughing minors.
The ejections of Letang and Timonen -- the top defenseman on each team -- were based on them starting a fight after a fight already was in process.
"I didn't like that tradeoff very much," said Flyers forward Danny Briere. "I know Letang is a very good defenseman, offensively he's their most dangerous defenseman. But Kimmo does it all for us, defensively, offensively, everywhere. I didn't really like that tradeoff."
What they did like, though, was the sight of Giroux, their top offensive threat, going toe-to-toe with CrosBy, the Penguins' go-to superstar.
"I thought it was great," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. "That's the thing … in the end, that's playoff hockey, isn't it? A couple of the best players in the world dropping their gloves and going at it. Would I rather have [Giroux] keep his gloves on? Sure. But when he's fighting Sidney Crosby, that's playoff hockey."
Crosby also said he wasn't going to back down one iota.
"Guys are emotional and there is a lot of stuff going on out there," he said. "There is no reason to explain."
Things seemed to get even crazier later in the first when the Flyers' Brayden Schenn was called for charging for a hit on Pittsburgh's Paul Martin. Pittsburgh's Arron Asham responded by cross-checking Schenn in the face and then punching the Flyers rookie in the head while Schenn was down on the ice. Asham was handed a match penalty.
According to the NHL Rulebook (Rule 21.2), in addition to the match penalty Asham is automatically suspended until a hearing is conducted with the Department of Player Safety.
The first period ended with 72 penalty minutes and took nearly an hour to play.
Things were far calmer in the second period, but started again in the third after a booming hit by the Pens' James Neal on Flyers rookie Sean Couturier. No penalty was called on Neal on the Couturier hit, but after he tried to throw a big hit on Giroux, another melee broke out with 4:42 remaining in the game.
Neal was called for charging and given a game misconduct. Scott Hartnell and Crosby got paired off, but before that could start, Pittsburgh's Craig Adams pulled Hartnell away and squared off with him. The end result was another 64 minutes in penalties, with Adams, Engelland and the Flyers' Wayne Simmonds earning misconduct penalties.
With two days off, there's a chance some of the anger could cool off before the puck drops for Game 4 on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN) at Wells Fargo Center.
But it likely won't take much time for things to start boiling again.
"Doesn't take a lot to get fired up for these games," said Hartnell.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK