BOSTON - In a game that started with three fights in the first four seconds, the NHL will have to deal with another shot to the head.
Patrice Bergeron had two goals and an assist to lift the Boston Bruins to a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
At 11:21 of the second period, Boston's Daniel Paille was given a match penalty for an illegal shot to the head of Stars forward Raymond Sawada.
Sawada had lost control of the puck and as he leaned down to gain control, Paille connected with a blindside hit to Sawada's shoulder and head.
"It was a bad hit," Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference said. "We can't be hypocrites when your own team does a hit like that which the league is trying to get rid of."
In the first four seconds of the game, there were three separate fights.
"I haven't seen it (three fights at the start of the game like that)," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. " It's funny ... two teams that don't see each other very much.
"It shows you you can't take anything for granted."
Stars agitator Steve Ott bloodied Boston's Gregory Campbell one second after the puck was dropped. That was followed by Boston's Shawn Thornton pounding Stars forward Krys Barch one second later. And then Boston's Adam McQuaid was fighting Dallas's Brian Sutherby four seconds in as the crowd roared with 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."
In the Stars' previous visit to Boston on Nov. 1, 2008, there were 146 penalty minutes, compared to just 91 on Thursday.
"You get reputations of being a frustrating team to play against and they're obviously a team that plays hard in the East," Ott said. "Put them together, and two years ago there was some bad blood and all that kind of junk and for some reason the game starts out like that."
Mark Recchi added three assists and Tuukka Rask made 30 saves and won for the third time since Dec. 9. Boston earned its sixth victory in eight games.
An energized Bruins team raced to a 2-0 lead in the first 1:20 on goals by Milan Lucic and Bergeron beating backup Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft. Raycroft was promptly removed after allowing goals on the only two shots he faced and was replaced by Kari Lehtonen.
"You never want to see a hit (Paille on Sawada) on either side," Bergeron said. "I was just happy when the guy got up and he was OK."
Ference and Adam Burish squared off in the fourth fight of the period at 3:51 as the game stirred memories of the Bruins' record-setting 5-1 victory in Boston on Feb. 26, 1981. That's when the Minnesota North Stars and Bruins combined for 406 penalty minutes. Former Bruin Steve Kasper, who kicked things off seven seconds into that contest in a fight with Bobby Smith, was in attendance.
"I've heard of it (the game in 1981), I haven't watched it, but maybe they (the Stars) wanted to do the same thing," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said.
Bergeron scored again at 9:35 of the first giving Boston a 3-0 lead.
Thornton made it 4-0 for Boston when his slapshot beat Lehtonen at 16:01.
Brenden Morrow cut Boston's lead to 4-2 with a short-handed goal 45 seconds into the third. Brad Richards closed the gap to 4-3 only 2:48 later for Dallas.
Rookie Tyler Seguin scored an insurance goal for Boston with 14:29 left in the game.
Marchand, who finished with a goal and two assists, added an empty-net goal for the Bruins.
Karlis Skrastins scored his third goal of the season midway through the second for Dallas, who lost for the fourth time in five games following an eight-game unbeaten streak.
NOTES -- Dallas fell to 11-3-1 against the Eastern Conference. ... Raycroft was traded by Boston to Toronto in 2006 for Rask, who was the 21st overall pick in the 2005 draft. ... Zdeno Chara and Ott received 10-minute misconduct penalties after jawing at each other in the second.