Despite what the brouhaha between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs earlier in the campaign would have led some to believe, cross-conference rivalries aren’t all that common given the makeup of the NHL’s schedule. That said, the Predators and Lightning may built an incredibly strong dislike for one another Monday night.
The tilt between Tampa Bay and Nashville was relatively calm for much of the outing, but things started to get heated as the third period wound down, starting with a cross check from Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson on Lightning winger Vladislav Namestnikov. The dangerous hit sent Namestnikov into the boards headfirst:
Thankfully as Namestnikov was able to get his hands up in time to block any serious injury, and he was able to stay in the game following the hit. Good on Arvidsson for checking on Namestnikov immediately following the hit, too, even though he was about to head to the box for a minor penalty.
Unfortunately, that would only end up as the start of the rough stuff between the two teams, no matter how unintentional the result of the hit may have been.
Less than 10 minutes after Arvidsson’s hit, the Lightning found themselves in the attacking zone again, and Tampa Bay center Brian Boyle let a shot fly that missed the net high and wound up behind the goal line on the tape of Nashville rearguard Roman Josi. As Josi cut around the back of the net, the Lightning’s J.T. Brown came around the opposite side and caught an unsuspecting Josi with a hard, brutal-looking hit.
The hit was deemed clean by the on-ice officials and Brown has since been cleared of any potential supplemental discipline. In fact, the only penalty handed out on the play was a roughing minor to Nashville captain Mike Fisher for going after Brown following the contact.
That wasn’t the last that would come of the contact by Brown on Josi, though, as Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis decided to get some retribution late in the third frame.
With Nashville on the power play, Ellis wired a shot from the blueline that was blocked away and sent into the corner. Brown, out penalty killing for the Lightning, started to give chase to the loose puck before pulling back in an attempt to hold the form of the four-man box, but as he started to cut back up towards the blueline, he was met with a booming check from Ellis.
The open-ice hit by Ellis sent him toppling into the corner and dropped Brown to the ice, but as soon as the Lightning winger popped back up to his feet he was on top of Ellis and raining down gloved punches that set off a minor line brawl:
That’s a brutal hit by Ellis and one that could have been even worse had Brown turned his head as Ellis was charging in. It’s easy to understand why Brown was so incensed by the hit, especially as he was being led from the ice by officials. The only punishment for the entire melee, however, was minor penalties and misconducts for both Ellis and Brown.
This likely isn’t the last of this we’ve seen from these two clubs, but there’s more than enough time for cooler heads to prevail. The Lightning don’t host the Predators until the New Year, but you can imagine Brown, Ellis and maybe even Josi have circled the Jan. 5 meeting on their calendar.
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