Rangers-Devils game erupts into 10-player brawl 2 seconds after opening faceoff; 8 ejected

NEW YORK — The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils engaged in a full, five-on-five brawl two seconds into their game Wednesday night, kicking off a wild scene in which eight players — four from each team — were ejected before most of the fans were settled in their seats.

Rangers overnight sensation Matt Rempe was likely going to fight tonight. He had delivered an elbow to Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler’s jaw the last time these two teams met, on March 11, drawing an ejection and a four-game suspension; that was on top of a borderline hit he threw on Nathan Bastian on Feb. 22 in Newark that the Devils, particularly forward Kurtis MacDermid, felt Rempe should answer for.

So, with Rempe and MacDermid in the lineup tonight, Devils coach Travis Green and Rangers coach Peter Laviolette had both players in the starting lineup. Fireworks were due to come off the opening faceoff.

What wasn’t expected: The other eight Devils and Rangers on the ice also dropping their gloves to fight. Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey squared off with Devils forward Curtis Lazar; Rangers center Barclay Goodrow tussled with Devils defenseman Kevin Bahl; Rangers captain Jacob Trouba and Devils center Chris Tierney wrestled for a few moments and Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller and Devils defenseman John Marino had a bout as well. Fans didn’t know where to look.

NHL Rule 46.7 states: “A game misconduct penalty shall be imposed on any player who is assessed a major penalty for fighting after the original altercation has started.”

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The officials determined that the Vesey-Lazar fight started first, so anyone involved in a fight after that got ejected. That meant four players from each team got tossed two seconds into the game, including Rempe, who gave the Madison Square Garden crowd a few “let’s go” hand gestures as he left the ice with a bloody mouth.

There was also some jawing between Green and Laviolette. Green clearly didn’t like the rest of the Rangers fighting besides Rempe, and Laviolette didn’t appreciate the comments.

The brawl and subsequent ejections meant the benches were roomy for both teams. The Devils are on the way to being eliminated from playoff contention and the Rangers are vying for the President’s Trophy as the top regular-season team in the league, so these fights were the main intrigue tonight.

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

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