Philadelphia Flyers Coach Roger Neilson drew a rousing response from the Toronto fans--and the wrath of Maple Leafs Coach and General Manager Pat Quinn.
Garry Valk scored two goals and the Maple Leafs moved into first place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-4 victory over the Flyers last night in Toronto.
The game featured a 12-player brawl in the second period that led to three game misconducts and 96 minutes in penalties. The fights overshadowed a tribute to Neilson, who was coaching his first game since announcing he has bone cancer.
"Are we playing hockey or playing that '70's scrum [stuff] that we've already been through?" Quinn said. "I thought that was a bygone era. When their five guys start throwing punches at your five guys, something's wrong. [Neilson] thinks he's still coaching in the '70s."
Neilson defended himself, denying any intent to instigate the fights with his team trailing 5-2.
"We're on the road, so we put out our two tough guys," Neilson said. "Pat was yelling at our bench complaining, but he had the last change. He didn't answer the challenge. He didn't have enough tough guys on the ice."
Valk's two goals sandwiched another by Sergei Berezin in a 1-minute, 43-second span early in the second period to break a 2-2 tie.
At one of the early stoppages in play, the in-house camera zoomed in on Neilson, who began his coaching career with the Maple Leafs. A message was flashed on the video screen above center ice: "Roger . . . . This cheer's for you from all your fans in Toronto."
Neilson, who begins chemotherapy Monday, looked up at the screen, his face flushed and tears welled in his eyes as the 19,000 hockey fans rose to applaud.
"That's one of the nicest things that has ever happened to me in hockey," he said.
PENGUINS 4, COYOTES 2: Kip Miller ended a 24-game goal drought with the go-ahead score as Pittsburgh dropped visiting Phoenix for its second win under new coach Herb Brooks. "Two games doesn't make a season, I understand that," Brooks said. "But, boy, if this is the heart coming out of them, I'm real happy with that."
RED WINGS 5, BRUINS 4: Vyacheslav Kozlov scored two goals, and Steve Yzerman scored for the fifth consecutive game as visiting Detroit beat Boston. Yzerman scored his 14th of the season at 16:23 of the third on a power play to make it 5-3.
PANTHERS 4, PREDATORS 2: Mark Parrish scored the eventual winning goal 2:33 into the third period, and Oleg Kvasha added two assists as Florida beat host Nashville for its third win in four games.
BLUES 4, STARS 2: Jamal Mayers and Craig Conroy scored 30 seconds apart in the third period to give host St. Louis the win.
KINGS 4, CANADIENS 2: Brad Chartrand scored twice as visiting Los Angeles held off Montreal's third-period rally and upped its record to 4-1-2 in its last eight games.
OILERS 3, DEVILS 1: Boyd Devereaux had a goal and an assist in a three-goal first period that led Edmonton to only its second road win in 16 games.
ISLANDERS 1, SENATORS 1: In Kanata, Ontario, Magnus Arvedson scored with 5:19 remaining to lift Ottawa into a tie with New York.