The Boston Bruins jumped on the Dallas Stars early and held on for a 6-3 victory in a scrappy game on Thursday that included three fights in the opening four seconds.
Boston scored four goals in the first period, including two in the opening 80 seconds, and after Dallas added three goals of their own the Bruins capped the scoring with two more to seal the win and tighten their grip on the NHL's Eastern Conference.
Despite Boston's fast start it was the unlikely sequence of fights at the beginning of the game that had the home crowd roaring their approval.
Usually against Dallas it is interesting in this building, Bruins coach Claude Julien said. We got their starting lineups and we knew they wanted to start with a physical edge and we were ready.
Boston's Gregory Campbell opened the fight card when he went after Dallas's Steve Ott, likely trying to settle a score from a game last season when Ott took a run at Campbell, who was playing with the Florida Panthers at the time.
I don't think anything was discussed, it just happened, said Ott. Both sides were ready. It was a big game.
That was followed by Boston's Shawn Thornton battling with Stars forward Krys Barch and then Boston's Adam McQuaid going against Brian Sutherby.
When the game eventually got underway, Boston stormed to a four-goal lead thanks to goals from Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton and two from Patrice Bergeron.
Of the last six periods we played, four of them were really sloppy, reckless periods, Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. We know we can compete with (the top teams), but we have to be a little smarter.
Dallas answered with goals from Karlis Skrastins midway through the second while third-period tallies from Brenden Morrow and Brad Richards pulled the visitors to within one of Boston with over 16 minutes to play.
But Tyler Seguin put Boston back ahead by two goals and Brad Marchand iced the game with an empty-net goal, giving the Bruins a four-point division lead over the Montreal Canadiens.