Maybe it was the 90-degree heat baking the parking lot around Nassau Coliseum, or just familiarity breeding contempt, but tensions between the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins boiled over in Game 4.
Not that there was any "easy ice" - as Barry Trotz calls it - from the start of the series, but the two teams played a nasty game from the drop of the puck on Saturday.
"It's kind of physicality meeting each other," Scott Mayfield said. "We both play hard, straight line hockey. It's a battle, I think the series has been great so far. We want to bring that physicality and I think we're doing a good job right now."
The first period featured two fights, with Mayfield and Taylor Hall tangling in the corner before dropping the gloves in the Islanders' zone. The fight was only the second of Hall's NHL career and first since 2011, but was indicative of the escalation of emotions in the postseason.
"Playoffs get emotional," Mayfield said. "Good for him. I know he's not known for doing that, but that's part of the game and it was a good little fight there."
Video: Barzal, Varlamov lead Isles to Game 4 win vs. Bruins
The tilt didn't do anything to alleviate the tension, as Matt Martin and Jarred Tinordi broke loose from a scrum 1:55 later and accounted for the second fight of the evening. Martin was serenaded to "Mat-ty Mar-tin" chants as he got situated in the penalty box.
That set the tone for the rest of the night, as the Islanders and Bruins showed no love lost for each other. The next flashpoint came when David Krejci put a stick to the midsection of Mathew Barzal, initially called a major on the ice, before being downgraded to a two-minute slashing minor. Krejci was later fined $5,000 by the NHL.
"I'm alright now," Barzal said. "I thought it was a tad vicious, but it's up to the refs and it doesn't matter now."
Barzal hit back where it really hurt, as he batted the game-winning goal past Tuukka Rask at 13:03 of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie and evening the series at two games apiece. With Game 5 going on Monday night in what's almost certain to be a hostile TD Garden and Game 6 guaranteed for Wednesday night at the Coliseum, there will be plenty of rough stuff ahead as the series to heat up.
"Of course, some animosity is going to develop, but we're two teams that want to win," Palmieri said. "Our fans were into it. We just want to go out there and compete. Sometimes tempers flare like that. We're just going to continue to play our game."