Monday night’s NHL Stanley Cup Playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning turned bloody during the third period.
Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher got tangled up with two Lightning players in front of their goal. Lightning center Blake Coleman initially ripped Gallagher’s helmet off. Then, defender Mikhail Sergachev slammed Gallagher to the ice, splitting Gallagher’s head open in the process.
Referees immediately jumped in to stop the fight. Photos from the game show blood covering Gallagher’s face. The 29-year-old eventually skated off the ice but didn’t return to the game.
Take a look at the fight:
A report by TMZ suggests that Gallagher will be able to lace up for Game 2. However, the Canadiens might still be licking their wounds by then after losing 5-1 to Tampa Bay in Game 1.
NHL Player Safety Initiative
The NHL has made no secrets about its desire to increase player safety. It established the NHL Department of Player Safety in 2011 to “change player behavior” and make the game safer, according to its website. At the time, the Department’s focus was on cutting down slashing.
However, rulings on violent offenses from the Department have been inconsistent at best. Just last month, the NHL Department of Player Safety held a hearing for Las Vegas Knights right winger Ryan Reaves. Reaves received two penalties in a game against the Colorado Avalanche for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct. The offenses were considered for “supplemental discipline,” according to a press release. Reaves received a two-game suspension.
Coleman received a roughing penalty during the Bolts’ last series with the New York Islanders but received no additional punishment.
After Game 1 between the Canadiens and Bolts, Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber was fined $5,000 for slashing Nikita Kucherov at 16:32 in the third period.
According to a report by NBC Sports, Tampa Bay and Montreal have had a “budding rivalry” for years. The two teams play well in their respective divisions and have met in the playoffs before as well.
Overall, the teams have met 14 times in the playoffs. Tampa Bay has won eight of those games. The average score of those games is 3-2, according to Mcubed, a hockey data website.
In 2014, Montreal swept the Bolts in the opening round of the playoffs.