BOSTON (CBS) — David Krejci is known for using his hands to send some incredibly slick passes across the ice. On Thursday night, the Bruins centerman used his mitts to send a message, firing up his team in the process.
For the first time since 2011, Krejci engaged in a little tussle on the ice, introducing Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski to his buddies Jack Johnson and Tom O’Leary (or whatever he calls his fists). Midway through the second period in a 1-1 game, Krejci had had enough of Pavelski taking liberties with him up and down the ice.
After the duo got tangled up in front of the Boston net, Krejci and Pavelski knew it was time to throw down and settle some business. Krejci landed several blows to Pavelski’s head and came away the clear victor of the bout, firing up the TD Garden crowd and his teammates in the process.
Fisticuffs aren’t too common in the NHL anymore, and the Bruins have engaged in only 16 scraps this season. But Krejci picked a perfect spot for the third fight of his career, a skirmish that immediately led to some inspired play by his teammates.
“I felt like he was a little over the line towards me, so I just tried to settle him down. Just one of those things,” Krejci explained after the game. “I have nothing personal against that guy. I like him as a player, but I thought towards me a few times he went a little too far.”
A few minutes after Krejci polished his knuckles with Pavelski’s dome, Charlie McAvoy made a beautiful feed to Brad Marchand in front of the Dallas net for Boston’s go-ahead goal. Just over a minute later, newcomer Nick Ritchie put Boston on top 3-1 with his first goal for his new team. Boston held on for a 4-3 victory to snap their two-game skid.
“It was nice to see the guys respond,” said Krejci. “That was a big win, a good bounce-back win. Pretty happy about those two points.”
Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy said it was clear that his team had a little more pep in their step after watching Krejci throw down.
“I mean, get a couple old-timers like that going at it. I mean, everyone enjoys it,” he said. “I don’t know much about Pavelski, but Krej — I’ve seen him in a few over the years. He can hold his own. He’s a good partner for him, looked like there were two willing guys going at it.
“It’s organic, nothing staged there. It certainly woke us up,” added Cassidy. “Not that I felt we didn’t have it early on, but gave us a little extra juice. Let’s put it that way.”
Both of Krejci’s previous regular season throwdowns came during the 2010-11 season, a campaign that ended pretty well for Boston. He also had a preseason fight in 2017 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
But now that he’s dusted off the fists, don’t expect him to use them on the regular.
“This is nothing I want to do too often,” he said. “It’s just one of those things in the moment you don’t really think much.”