The Rangers will have weeks this season that will prove to be less eventful than yesterday’s matinee against Edmonton. Marian Gaborik scored a hat trick in his second game back since returning from a shoulder injury. Alex Frolov, who until yesterday had scored just twice this season, tallied two goals and two assists. And the Rangers would score eight times in support of Marin Biron in Tom Renney’s return to New York. Then, of course, there was the fighting.
It was Kids Day at the Garden yesterday, which provided a perfect opportunity for budding pugilists to learn the dos and don’ts of hockey fighting. Derek Boogaard and Steve MacIntyre would fight twice in the third period — Boogaard put on a clinic in the first of those, landing a number of rights — but things would devolve from there. After Sean Avery (legally) checked Edmonton’s Colin Fraser into the boards, Oiler Ladislav Smid challenged Avery to a fight. Avery didn’t immediately drop his gloves — the Oilers, in fact, charged that he responded by saying “no” or “next shift” — but once Smid let his guard down, Avery sucker-punched him — a term even Erik Christensen would use after the game to describe Avery’s actions.
It would get uglier still: Theo Peckham, sticking up for his teammate, would chase Avery, who was being escorted by a linesman, toward the runway to the locker room, setting off a larger brawl during which Fraser got into it with Brandon Dubinsky, who was on the Rangers bench at the time, while Brandon Prust and Zack Stortini fought at center ice. When play resumed, after a melee that resulted in 124 penalty minutes and four ejections, the benches were so depleted that Matt Gilroy moved up to forward. (He’d notch an assist on Ruslan Fedotenko’s goal that extended the lead to 7–2. )
The Rangers — all of them, as the league didn’t suspend anyone for their role in the brawl — return to action tonight in Pittsburgh.