The bad blood between the rivals escalated into a fight-filled game Friday night as the teams combined for an NHL-record 419 penalty minutes. The old record was 406 set by the Minnesota North Stars and Boston Bruins in 1981.
Five separate brawls broke out in the final two minutes and a total of 16 players were ejected. And, by the way, the Flyers beat the Senators 5-3 to remain tied for first place in the Eastern Conference.
``It was exciting for hockey and for our fans,'' Flyers goaltender Robert Esche said.
The teams meet again in Philadelphia on April 2.
The Flyers, eliminated from the playoffs by Ottawa the last two seasons, wanted retribution because Senators forward Martin Havlat hit Mark Recchi in the face with his stick last week. Havlat played his first game after being suspended two games by the NHL, but wasn't involved in any of the fights because Senators coach Jacques Martin let him sit in the penalty box to serve a penalty.
With 1:45 left, Flyers enforcer Donald Brashear began the fighting by going after Senators enforcer Rob Ray. After their fight ended, the rest of the players on the ice went after each other, including the goalies as Ottawa's Patrick Lalime skated from his crease to get at Esche.
Once all the debris was cleared and calm restored, the fighting resumed as Senators tough guy Chris Neil went after Radovan Somik, who isn't much of a fighter.
Flyers center Michal Handzus called it a ``chicken move.''
Again, all the players, except the new goalies, went at it. When play resumed, more fights broke out as Handzus, also not a fighter, went at Mike Fisher.
``When it's time to go, it's time to go,'' Handzus said.
The teams actually played 24 seconds before the next round of fights broke out. Mild-mannered Flyers John LeClair and Recchi dropped their gloves this time, with Recchi getting good shots on Bryan Smolinski.
``My teammates didn't forget what happened,'' Recchi said. ``There was a lot of emotion.''
The fighting concluded with Philadelphia's Patrick Sharp going against Jason Spezza. In all, 20 players got fighting penalties and only five players remained on the benches when the game ended.
``I don't know what they were trying to do,'' Senators defenseman Todd Simpson said. ``It was pretty stupid. I thought we did a great job standing up for each other. That's what they wanted and we stood up to them.''
One by one, Flyers players skated off the ice to cheers and were greeted by high-fives in the hallway by teammates already ejected from the game. Philadelphia general manager Bob Clarke sought Martin after the game, but team officials stopped him from getting inside the Senators' locker room.
Asked why he started the fighting, Brashear said, ``Why wouldn't I? Did you see the last game?''
The 409 penalty minutes in the third period set an NHL record, breaking the mark of 372 by the Flyers and Los Angeles Kings in 1979. The Flyers totaled 213 penalty minutes and Ottawa had 206.
``We knew we had to fight back. We had to stand up for each other,'' Fisher said.