Wow, I haven’t witnessed this kind of thing since the North Stars skated Basil McRae and Shane Churla together. Obviously, the Islanders had vengeance on their minds. Unfortunately, the Pens gave them ample opportunity to extract revenge as they spotted the Isles a 6 goal advantage. Having a huge lead affords a team the opportunity to take some liberties.
The referees were damn near useless for this entire exchange. They never took control of the game. It seemed to really go down hill when Matt Martin sucker punched Max Talbot in the second period. Yeah, I get it, he didn’t connect cleanly, but the intent was there on the level of what Todd Berutuzzi did to Steve Moore. The referees could have set the tone at that point, but not so much. The snowball starting going down hill. After Gilles landed a flying elbow on Eric Tangradi and proceeded punching the now prone Tangradi, Michael Haley took the opportunity to engage Talbot. After that scrum was broken up, the Refs apparently felt that Haley could conduct himself appropriately. Why wouldn’t they think that as it was only his second fight of the game. The officials let him go to the penalty box on his own recognisance. Instead of peaceably going to the box, he decided to take a slight detour and skate to the other end of the ice and engage Brent Johnson in a fight. This prompted Eric Godard to defend his goaltender and leave the bench to fight with Haley.
The game went to hell from there. 322 penalty minutes. The officials let it go there. As bad as the officiating was during the game, I am quite interested in how the league handles some of the violations in terms of suspensions. We know that Godard will be suspended for leaving the bench, but there had better be more suspensions. Matt Martin’s attempted sucker punch should draw a good long suspension. If Matt Cooke gets a 4 game suspension for his hit, the hit Trevor Gilles put on Tangradi should get a stiff penalty. Hopefully, the league realizes how embarrassing this is for everyone, takes a stand and does something to prevent future such debacles.
Let’s not forget, the Pens and Isles face off one more time on April 8.