Winger Tom Sestito (Tom Sestito!) was the game’s star, and goalie Ilya Bryzglaov was again superb, but the tone of the Flyers’ 2-1 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday was set by winger Zac Rinaldo.
Despite being outweighed by about 40 pounds, Rinaldo pounded B.J. Crombeen in a first-period fight.
It sent a message. The Flyers weren’t going to lie down, like they did in a 5-1 loss in Tampa on Jan. 27.
The fight, coach Peter Laviolette said, sent a “huge bolt of energy” to the players and coaches and “picked up the building.”
The timing was perfect. It came on a night when director Rob Zombie was at the game, gathering info for his movie on the Broad Street Bullies of the 1970s.
“It’s just hockey. Fights happen and I am not afraid to answer the bell,” Rinaldo said. “….It’s obviously a good feeling when you connect with anybody.”
Sestito, who had his first two goals as a Flyer (see story), said Rinaldo's bout was retribution for the way Crombeen was going after Claude Giroux in the Lightning’s win last month.
Rinaldo pleaded ignorance, saying he was injured and watched that game from the press box _ “and to be honest with you, I had no clue what happened down in Tampa.”
Rinaldo said he and Crombeen simply collided, and the Lightning winger “asked if we were going.”
They went, and Rinaldo dropped Crombeen with a series of right hands, including two punches that appeared to be thrown as the winger was hunched over.
“Typically when I’ve gotten into fights with guys in that position, you stop throwing [punches],” Crombeen said. “I mean, guys fight different ways, so I’m not really going to say if it was dirty or not. I mean, if you’re fighting, you’re fighting. You’re putting yourself in that situation, and you know the consequences.”
Rinaldo said none of his punches were late.
“I hit him until he was down. I’m not going to hit nobody (late) no matter who they are or what they’ve done,” Rinaldo said. “I’ll never hit someone when they’re down; I hit him until he was down and made sure he was down and that was it.”
Rinaldo said he talked to referee Kelly Sutherland to get his opinion.
“I kind of felt bad if maybe I didn’t stop myself, but I’m pretty sure I did. I even asked Kelly what he thought and he said ‘No, you’re good.’ ’
Added Rinaldo: “I don’t regret nothing.”
Neither do the Flyers.
Breakaways. Tampa was 0 for 4 on the power play; the Lightning was 2 for 5 in their 5-1 win Jan. 27….Giroux won 18 of 25 faceoffs (72 percent), but the Flyers won just 46 percent of their draws….Brayden Schenn won one of nine faceoffs (11 percent) and played just 10:42……Tye McGinn had a team-high four shots and added three hits…..Sestito, Luke Schenn and Kimmo Timonen were each plus-2…..Tampa star Steven Stamkos won only 33 percent of his faceoffs and was minus-1….The Flyers (4-6) will practice Wednesday in Voorhees at noon; they host Florida on Thursday night and Carolina on Saturday afternoon.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.