Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby thought he needed to drop the gloves to stick up for a teammate Wednesday night, and when Crosby’s gloves came off so did Dallas Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen’s.
“I never saw that coming. We were up 4-1 and he was probably trying to get the team going. He asked me to go and we went,” Niskanen said after the Stars defeated the Penguins 5-2 at American Airlines Center. “I didn’t say a word to him all night. I wasn’t on the ice with him all night. I made sure he really wanted it and we went. It happens.”
The Crosby-Niskanen scrap came on the faceoff right after Stars captain Brenden Morrow and Penguins defenseman Kris Letang dropped the gloves.
“Morrow went after Letang there, so it was just a response, sticking up for Tanger,” Crosby said. “I don’t think you really need to fight him there, but that’s all it was.”
Stars coach Marc Crawford wasn't sure what happened with Morrow and Letang, but he did know that Morrow was angry about something.
"I didn't see exactly what happened on that, but Brenden doesn't get mad like that at someone unless they've done something," Crawford said. "He's not the guy you really want to tangle with."
So that left Crosby looking for a partner.
“I think he probably picked me out,” said Niskanen. “Maybe I was the smallest guy out there. I don’t know.”
Asked how he fared in the fight, Niskanen had this to say.
“I got him hard once in the helmet, if that counts,” Niskanen said. “He’s pretty strong on his skates and he probably had the upper hand a little bit.”
Said Crawford: "You have to give Sidney credit for trying to inspire his group. I liked how Matt Niskanen got in there. He'll certainly be on a lot of highlight tapes tonight.
The Niskanen-Crosby fight was one of four in the game. Besides the Morrow-Letang fight, there were two others involving Stars forward Jamie Benn, who fought both Tyler Kennedy and Chris Kunitz.
“That I got beat up by Sidney Crosby?”
Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen when asked if Wednesday night’s fight was a story he could tell the grandchildren about some day.