Tensions rise quickly in semifinals between unfamiliar foes

When a heated scrum broke out between Islanders and Lightning players at the final horn of Game 2 and New York’s Travis Zajac wrestled Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli to the ice, it did not feel like these teams didn’t face off all season.

“I think we are familiar with them from the last playoffs,” Lightning forward Ondrej Palat said.

With a few new faces, the Islanders and Lightning picked up their rivalry right where they left off in the 2020 bubble playoffs. That series and the other semifinal between the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens heated up early, showing it doesn’t take long for tensions to rise, even among players who haven’t seen each other — or been aggravated by each other — since last year.

“We’re both in each other’s way right now, so we’re not going to be liking each other,” Vegas enforcer Ryan Reaves said. “It’s two teams that are fighting for the Stanley Cup, and we’re two of four teams left, so it’s not going to take much. There’s going to be hatred that’s going to build pretty quickly.”

The mutual dislike was evident in the series opener between the Golden Knights and Canadiens, the teams’ first meeting since January 2020. There was pushing and shoving after several whistles and more extracurricular activities than the lack of penalties would indicate.

It wasn’t surprising at this stage of the playoffs.

“At this point in time, you’re fighting for every inch,” Golden Knights rookie Keegan Kolesar said. “No one’s going to give you anything easily, and everyone’s going to work for it.”

The Islanders would like to outwork the Lightning between the whistles and not get bogged down in some of the antics that don’t affect the play. New York’s heavy style suits that, and coach Barry Trotz wants his players to “try to stay out of the extra stuff.”

“Our team is disciplined enough,” Trotz said. “We’ve got to stay out of all that. Whistle to whistle we need to play hard 5 on 5, and we’ll walk away from all that. The most important thing is trying to win the series and doing what it takes to win the series.”

Much like the Islanders did to Boston last round, Vegas would like to wear down Montreal over the course of the series, which the Canadiens lead 2-1. Trotz does not believe much in momentum from game to game, but the temperature rises with more feisty on-ice encounters between teams.

“Playoff series are going to be physical,” Reaves said. “Stuff is going to boil over from game to game, from shift to shift, and it’s already started a little bit, and I expect it to keep going.”

Now in the third round for the fourth time in his career, Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez said being this close to the final naturally sparks “emotional games.” That series is aided by teammate Max Pacioretty facing old friends on the Canadiens in a playoff series for the first time since Montreal traded him in 2018.

Even the newcomers to the Islanders-Lightning series have embraced a little healthy distaste for the other team. Zajac hadn’t faced Tampa Bay since January 2020 when he was with New Jersey and was at the center of the scrum at the end of Game 2.

Jon Merrill, who joined the Canadiens at the trade deadline in April, feels the same way about how tensions are developing against the Golden Knights.

“You become a little bit more familiar with the players — you haven’t seen a lot of them all year,” he said. “It’s not that you forget about them but you haven’t engaged with them all season long. … As the series goes on I expect it to get more and more intense.”


Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno


More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

News Related


NRL: Canberra Raiders' English star Josh Hodgson disappointed in World Cup withdrawals with tournament in doubt

Clubhouse themselves have put out an official statement saying that there has been no data breach Clubhouse have now officially confirmed via a statement that there has been “no breach ... Read more »

EXPLAINER: How team of refugee athletes made it to Olympics

After several weeks of warm weather in the south and east of Norway, meteorologists are now forecasting a rainy period. However, the north of the country will get to enjoy ... Read more »

Will Shaner of U.S. sets Olympic record winning gold in 10-meter air rifle competition

Steam Deck | Photo credit: Valve / Steam Valve’s newly announced portable PC gaming device appears to be a hit. However, fans who have yet to make a reservation for ... Read more »

Tunisian teen wins surprise Olympic swimming gold

By RNZ The Department of Conservation is investigating a pod of orca sighted in the Marlborough Sounds in an effort to reunite a stranded calf with its family. The orca ... Read more »

'Happy again:' Naomi Osaka returns to tennis with dominant victory in Olympic opener

A Channel 7 reporter was bombarded by anti-lockdown protesters in a Sydney park in a moment that was caught on video. Robert Ovadia is seen walking through Victoria Park in ... Read more »

Mexico beats Honduras 3-2, reaches Gold Cup semifinal

Victoria residents will have to wait until Friday to apply for lockdown support, Government Services Minister Linda Reynolds has confirmed. But NSW residents can apply for their payments immediately. “The ... Read more »

Cifuentes scores, Los Angeles FC ties Vancouver 2-2

A dress war is brewing between Perth’s fashion designers and hire boutiques after Only One Ashley founder Kate Watts opened fire on social media over the weekend. She claimed boutiques ... Read more »

Team USA's Jagger Eaton wins bronze in first Olympic skateboarding event

Depending on your needs, you can order a 6- or 7-seat Alcazar, with the 6-seater having two captain seats in the second row and the 7-seater a bench seat. The ... Read more »

Several US women's gymnasts to likely be left out of all-around, event finals because of two-per-country rule

Photo by: Emart24/Facebook Emart24 is set to launch its unmanned alcohol vending machine that can be found in its convenience stores. This artificial intelligence machine will be part of the ... Read more »

Minnesota United edges Portland 2-1, Gasper scores

Australia's travel industry is at a tipping point and could see major job losses unless more government support is provided. About 15,000 travel sector jobs have been lost since the ... Read more »

NRL fans applaud 860-day first in Canberra Raiders' win over Parramatta Eels

The occupant of a station wagon is being treated in Rotorua Hospital for serious injuries after their vehicle collided with a power pole in Utuhina, Rotorua. Fire and Emergency NZ ... Read more »

Nashville shuts out FC Cincinnati 3-0, Sapong scores twice

Barely a fortnight after winning Wimbledon, Australian and world No.1 Ash Barty has sensationally lost in the first round of the women’s singles at the Olympic Games. Barty lost 6-4, ... Read more »

Toronto FC secures 2-1 win over Chicago, Deleon scores

Bengaluru | Chennai: Ensconced in the sprawling environs of the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore (IISc Bangalore), the Society for Innovation and Development (SID) has incubated over 40 startups since ... Read more »

USA's women's coxless four is already a part of Summer Olympics history in rowing

Two men will face court in the wake of an anti-lockdown protest in central Sydney, accused among other offences of striking a police horse. Fifty-seven people have already been charged ... Read more »

Bryson DeChambeau tests positive for COVID-19, will be replaced in Olympics by Patrick Reed

It ended exactly as you would expect for poor Agustin Loser. The volleyballer from Argentina found a way to bring the sport into the spotlight on Saturday when the world ... Read more »

Tennis star Novak Djokovic may just be the most popular man in the Olympic Village in Tokyo

TOKYO — Chase Kalisz, a Michael Phelps protege who won the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the men’s 400 individual medley, has won gold to give the ... Read more »

NRL fans baffled by ‘hilarious' detail in clash between Storm and Knights

A Malaysian company has been given consent to buy a nearly 460ha sheep and beef farm in Western Southland. The Overseas Investment Office gave the consent to the 100 per ... Read more »

‘Utter stupidity': NRL fans baffled by Lachlan Lewis' bizarre halftime brainsnap

Far-right commentator Katie Hopkins is being deported from Australia after her controversial quarantine statements. Newly released photos show the controversial figure out of hotel quarantine and back at Sydney Airport ... Read more »

Tokyo Olympics live updates: Team USA seeking first medal on Day 2 of Summer Games

A live drawing session led by one of the invited artists at the Urban Break Art Asia fair at COEX in Gangnam District, Seoul, last November / Courtesy of Urban ... Read more »

Mensah's goal gives Crew 1-0 victory over Atlanta United

Several train services have been added as exposure sites in Victoria. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew HenshawSource:News Corp Australia Victoria’s Covid-19 exposure sites have ballooned to almost 300 as the ... Read more »

Dodd storms into 2-shot lead at Senior British Open

NSW officials have issued Covid-19 alerts for several new venues. Picture John GraingerSource:News Corp Australia NSW Health has listed a Virgin flight from Sydney to Ballina as a close contact ... Read more »

Fans baffled by Tom Cruise's appearance at British Grand Prix

Domanic Grant is only 9 years old but has gone through more pain and heartache than most of us experience in a lifetime. The young boy from Shannon, a small ... Read more »

Mets newcomer Hill expected to start Sunday vs Toronto

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Now is the perfect time to update your summer wardrobe. Why? ... Read more »

‘Outrageous' call in game between Sharks and Raiders proves NRL has lost the plot

Waipū Cove surf lifeguards have three new trophies to add to the club’s cabinet after a successful evening at the Northern Region Awards of Excellence. Saturday night’s event had Jaine ... Read more »

Shock NRL club targets Broncos outcast for instant move

Travellers stranded in New South Wales due to the travel bubble pause are being set aside a further 530 spaces in managed isolation and quarantine facilities. The quarantine-free travel bubble ... Read more »

NHL draft 2021: First-round picks, scouting reports of the players selected

Brisbane Broncos player Anthony Milford. Picture: NRL PhotosSource:Supplied Parramatta is reportedly discussing a potential play for unwanted Broncos star Anthony Milford. The former Queensland State of Origin star is looking ... Read more »

NASCAR penalizes Hendrick Motorsports for engine infractions

Heathcliffe the horse has swollen legs, a few scrapes, and is on a course of antibiotics after he was dramatically rescued from drowning in a flooded Wellington stream. It took ... Read more »

Canadiens draft pick Logan Mailloux: 'I deeply regret' taking, sharing intimate photo of woman

When women know how much their male counterparts earn, they are in a better place to demand the same compensation, experts say. (NYTIMES) – Ms Carolyn Kopprasch earns US$225,000 (S$306,000) ... Read more »

Chasing Gold: The race for Team USA's first gold at Tokyo Olympics heats up

A new prayer feature is part of Facebook’s recent and concerted outreach to the religious community. MENLO PARK (REUTERS) – Facebook has long sought your attention. In recent weeks, it ... Read more »

Craig Bellamy on the verge of call on NRL coaching future

It’s as close as you can get to the feeling of swimming with whales and the challenge is to not fall asleep. Shannon harpist Shellie Hanley performed a song from ... Read more »

Opinion: 19-year-old swimmer Emma Weyant could win USA's first gold at Tokyo Olympics

The number of infected sailors on a South Korean destroyer on an anti-piracy mission off the coast of East Africa has soared to 247 – the largest cluster for the ... Read more »

Naomi Osaka becomes first female Black athlete on a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover

An incident involving an imitation firearm outside a Melbourne fast food restaurant has left a man facing criminal charges. Two men were allegedly involved in a verbal dispute with a ... Read more »

Remember that shirtless, oiled up Tongan Olympian? He's back, and ready to inspire in 2021

A HEAVILY pregnant Sydney woman who says a police officer told her video showed her holding a phone while driving has had the charge dismissed. Believing the footage would prove ... Read more »

Want to feel the Olympic spirit? Here's how to celebrate Team USA without being in Tokyo

Collingwood's Callum Brown will undergo shoulder reconstruction surgery this week and miss the rest of the AFL season. Brown suffered a dislocated left shoulder during the dying stages of Sunday's ... Read more »

10 to watch: Caeleb Dressel, a medal favorite in multiple events, is always pushing to get better

Horse of the Year-elect Verry Elleegant and the sensational Zaaki are set for a series of compelling weight-for-age clashes that will light up the spring carnival. The nation’s premier middle ... Read more »

Alternate on US women's gymnastics team tests positive for COVID-19

Herald Sun form analyst Brad Waters runs the rule over Tuesday’s card on the Ballarat Synthetic track. BEST BET ILALLIQA (Race 6 No. 6 – $4) The imported mare will ... Read more »

English FA launches investigation into trouble at Euro final

The physical cost of the Suncorp Super Netball title race has been laid bare as the Queensland Firebirds claimed a vital 59-49 win against the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Brisbane. ... Read more »

Coyotes pick Shane Doan's son Josh in 2nd round of NHL draft

He' a four-time All-Australian defender and the best intercept marker in the league, but is Jeremy McGovern the answer to West Coast's ruck riddle? McGovern impressed as a back-up ruckman ... Read more »

Tokyo Olympics schedule: Men's basketball tips off; skateboarding, swim finals on Day 2

Four years after Shane Doan hung up his skates, the Arizona Coyotes added his oldest son to the organization. The Coyotes took Josh Doan with the 37th pick in the ... Read more »

Packers' Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams post cryptic photo about a 'last dance'

Former No.2 draft pick Josh Schache has opened a “new chapter” of his AFL career as a defender in a Western Bulldogs team that's firming as this year's premiership favourites. ... Read more »