Sidney Crosby drops gloves vs. Stars

DALLAS -- 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," Niskanen said after the Stars defeated the Penguins 5-2 at American Airlines Center. "We were up 4-1 and he was probably trying to get the team going. He asked me to go and we went.

"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 with 12:33 of the second period -- right after Stars captain Brenden Morrow and Penguins defenseman Kris Letang had dropped the gloves.

"Morrow went after Letang there, so it was just a response, sticking up for Tanger," said Crosby, who entered the game with only four penalty minutes this season. "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," Niskanen said. "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."

And is being only the fifth person to scrap with Crosby during a game something Niskanen could tell his grandkids about?

"That I got beat up by Sidney Crosby?" Niskanen asked.

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.

"You have to give Sidney credit for trying to inspire his group," Crawford said. "I liked how Matt Niskanen got in there. He'll certainly be on a lot of highlight tapes tonight."

Mark Stepneski covers the Stars for ESPNDallas.com.