Things could get out of hand quickly when the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers conclude their home-and-home set at Madison Square Garden.
Though the Bruins improved to 7-1-1 since Jan. 1 with a 5-2 win on Monday at FleetCenter, they suffered an even bigger loss.
Rangers center Eric Lindros knocked Bruins leading scorer Joe Thornton out of the game with a cut near his left eye following a second-period fight. Thornton, who had a goal and an assist before leaving, sustained a small fracture in his left cheekbone. He was treated at the hospital and released but is not expected to play in this game.
The hit led to some ugly incidents the rest of the way. Boston's Doug Doull, who already had a fighting major to his credit, received a game misconduct for charging at Petr Nedved.
"What do you expect from a player like that? He goes out there to hurt people," Nedved said about Doull. "If I had the puck I'd salute him, but I didn't have the puck."
Later in the period, Dan McGillis received a match penalty for attempting to injure after he kneed New York defenseman Darius Kasparaitis.
"Our guy is going to have to miss some games because of his knee. Another guy (Nedved) might have a concussion," Rangers coach Glen Sather said. "They didn't have to go to that extreme."
In all, the teams combined for 81 minutes in penalties, including eight fighting majors.
Sergei Samsonov scored a goal and added two assists, and goaltender Andrew Raycroft made 34 saves for Boston, the 19th time in 29 complete games this season in which he's allowed two or fewer goals.
The loss, coupled with the archrival Islanders' 5-2 win over Ottawa on Monday, dropped the Rangers out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
New York has won one of its last four (1-1-2).
Rangers goalie Mike Dunham, who had a .932 save percentage (138-for-148) in his previous five starts (2-1-2), struggled Monday, allowing all five goals on 22 shots.