The Flyers hosted the Capitals at Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 1, 2013. But the game could have been played at The Spectrum on Nov. 1, 1983.
In the second period, Aaron Volpatti upended Matt Read and sent him to the ice without targeting the head or using a high stick. Nevertheless, the recently acquired Steve Downie objected to the play and squared off with Volpatti.
This was the fifth fight in Downie's career against a member of the Capitals, according to HockeyFights.com. Unfortunately for Downie, he was not fighting Karl Alzner. Downie paid dearly for his choice in sparring partner as Volpatti hammered him with a clean shot to the left eye, bloodying him in the process.
The fight ended as both players stood up, talked to each other and ceased hostilities in what turned out to be Downie asking Volpatti for mercy. Downie had been concussed by that blow to the head, and was taken to the hospital after leaving the game, according to Chris Peters of Eye On Hockey at CBSSports.com.
Then things got a little crazy.
After the Caps took a 7-0 lead early in the third period, Wayne Simmonds became a one-man wrecking crew on the ensuing faceoff, first running over Steve Oleksy and then hitting Tom Wilson cleanly along the boards. Wilson presumably took exception to the hit on Oleksy and the two dropped gloves. The fight was short but intense, and Wilson held his own against the most accomplished fighter he has faced in his short NHL career, according to HockeyFights.com.
Up to that point, the two fights in the game had begun under acceptable circumstances. A player took exception to a legal hit on a teammate and decided to fight the offending player, who was a willing participant. But while Wilson was fighting Simmonds, Flyers goalie Ray Emery decided that another fight should begin under less than acceptable circumstances.
Emery raced down the ice and picked a fight with Caps goalie Braden Holtby, who declined the invitation. Emery insisted, and referee Francois St. Laurent did little to stop him despite Holtby clearly not being interested. St. Laurent did, however, find enough energy to keep Michael Latta from coming to Holtby's defense. Someone needed to do just that, as Emery worked Holtby over pretty good. On the bench during all this, John Carlson was incensed with St. Laurent's backward logic, and rightfully so.
Be sure to listen to Capitals' radio voice John Walton give his account of the goalie fight here. Lindsay Applebaum of The Washington Post transcribed the best part:
Oh, what a dirty play by Ray Emery! Taking Braden Holtby down! Thug hockey back in town! You’re losing by a touchdown, and you just grab a sweater! If you think that’s gonna get you standings points, think again! The Buffalo Sabres are the only thing saving this team from being the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and now they’ve taken it to the alley in the dirtiest way possible!
The brawl was only half finished at that point. Brayden Schenn squared off with Capitals blue liner Alexander Urbom, just a few feet from Emery and Holtby. Schenn bloodied the big Swede, who did not go down easy. It was a good scrap, as neither Schenn nor Urbom are strangers to a fight, according to HockeyFights.com.
There was one more fight to go in this donnybrook. Caps defender Steve Oleksy squared off with Flyers veteran Vincent Lecavalier as the six remaining players on the ice gathered around the goalies. Lecavalier can handle himself, but Oleksy got the best of him and gave Lecavalier a reason to visit the dentist.
The day after the fight, Eye On Hockey at CBSSports.com provided an update on the status of both Lecavalier and Downie:
As far as the post mortem for the entire game, here is the final tally from a long night of fighting, as tweeted by Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com:
The rematch is Dec. 15 at Capital Centre. I mean, Verizon Center.