SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — All that talk of cheap shots, sucker punches, cracked helmets and broken noses stayed behind in St. Louis.
The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues know there is far too much at stake in their first-round playoff series to worry about settling scores when the teams resume play in Game 3 on Monday night with the series tied at a game apiece.
"This time of year there's only one payback, win the hockey game," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Sunday. "That's the only payback. There's no retribution other than play to win. Whistle to whistle. The first team that figures out whistle to whistle in any of these rounds going on right now is probably going to be the winner of each of the series that goes on."
There was plenty of action after the whistle in St. Louis' 3-0 win in Game 2 that tied the series. There was a second-period fight between the usually peaceful Joe Pavelski of San Jose and Kris Russell of St. Louis and a scrum between Dan Boyle and Alexander Steen late in the third.
The game ended with sticks and gloves all over the ice as St. Louis' Vladimir Sobotka broke San Jose forward Dominic Moore's nose in a fight with what Sharks coach Todd McLellan called a "sucker punch" and Blues defenseman Roman Polak pummeled Justin Braun in another fight.
"That's what happens in these series. You go into the series not liking each other and you come out hating each other," Russell said. "It's going to pick up. The tempo is going to pick up. Physical play is going to pick up. We know that and we're ready for it. We just want to make sure we're focused on our game plan and what we're going to do."
The Blues had plenty that they were steamed about, most notably TJ Galiardi's hit that cracked Andy McDonald's helmet and an elbow to Scott Nichol's head by defenseman Brent Burns.
Galiardi's hit was particularly galling to the Blues in part because McDonald has a long history of concussions and missed 51 games this season with one. Galiardi maintained he did nothing wrong despite being handed a minor charging penalty.
"I'm just bigger than him. It doesn't mean that I elbowed him," Galiardi said. "I'm going to finish my check on anybody. ... Just because a guy has had a concussion doesn't mean I'm not going to hit them. A clean hit is a clean hit. If he wants to call it dirty he can call it whatever he wants."
Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's chief disciplinarian, declined to hand out any suspensions for the infractions and both teams echoed Hitchcock in that the hostilities were "yesterday's news."