If you thought the New York Rangers' Friday night tilt with the Florida Panthers would be little more than a breezy tuneup for the Winter Classic, you thought wrong. While the Rangers would indeed open up a three-goal lead early and coast to a 4-1 victory, the game was certainly not without incident.
Tensions erupted with the Panthers' net empty late in the third period, as Michael Del Zotto and Tomas Kopecky's battle in front of the net escalated at a pretty scary pace.
First, the two gentlemen jostled for position. Then, Del Zotto crosschecked Kopecky in the head. Then, Kopecky took umbrage to this and sucker-punched Del Zotto with a nasty right hook.
That's ugly. But keep watching. There's more.
As tensions erupted and the officials stepped in to separate the two teams, Michael Rupp expressed his disapproval with Kopecky's sucker punch by yanking the Panthers' winger away from the officials and peppering him with blows to the head.
Expectedly, he was ...