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Leblond-Janssen battle an epic

by Mike G. Morreale
NEWARK, N.J. -- Hockey fans at the Prudential Center on Saturday night were not only treated to some exciting end-to-end action, but they also witnessed an epic fight.

Just 5:58 into the first period, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond of the New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues forward Cam Janssen went toe-to-toe in a marathon slugfest that could very well go down in NHL annals as one of the longest fights in history.

"We wanted to get the crowd into it -- I wasn't done and he wasn't done and I wanted to get the boys riled up and going," Janssen said. "That's the way it is sometimes. We like to go long, that's our style."

Leblond (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) and Janssen (6-0, 215), who spent two seasons with the Devils before being traded to St. Louis in February 2008, rolled up their sleeves right off a draw just outside the Blues' blue line and near their players' bench. Leblond was able to land a few right hands that kept Janssen off balance, but he was never able to knock his opponent down.
Janssen's knees did buckle a few times and his helmet eventually popped off before Leblond finally took him to the ice, but both players skated off the ice to a standing ovation.

"He was in training camp with me when I was (in New Jersey) and I know he's a tough kid -- we knew this was going to happen," Janssen said. "I looked at him in warm-ups and we knew we were going to go. He's a tough kid and we have a similar style.

"We both connected with a couple and I think I'm deaf in my left ear now," Janssen added with a smile. "But that's the way it is. The boys' said my lips were blue when I went to the penalty box, but that's the way we do it and it was fun. We're both warriors going at it and we love it."

Blues coach Davis Payne, realizing Janssen was fatigued during the second intermission, didn't give his enforcer a single shift in the third period. Devils coach Jacques Lemaire kept Leblond on the bench as well.

"I felt he might have been a little fatigued there," Payne said. "He got a full round in tonight. So we felt like he had a pretty good night."

Blues goalie Ty Conklin, who made 29 saves to earn a 1-0 victory over the Devils, couldn't believe the two players battled that long.

"I was exhausted just watching it," Conklin said.

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