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Eight players ejected after line brawl opens Devils-Rangers game

Matt Rempe New York Rangers Kurtis MacDermid New Jersey Devils Matt Rempe Kurtis MacDermid - Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils started Wednesday night’s game with a brawl involving all 10 players on the ice off the opening faceoff.

The main event was Rangers forward Matt Rempe taking on New Jersey’s Kurtis MacDermid, with the two having history from the previous time the Devils visited Madison Square Garden on March 11. That night, Rempe refused MacDermid’s offer to fight early in the game. Later in the contest, Rempe knocked Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler out of the game with a high elbow and was subsequently suspended for four games.

Rempe and MacDermid fought the longest on Wednesday as their tussle continued at center ice after the other four fights had ended. Four players from each team received game misconducts 2 seconds into the game.

“It was great to see the team responding that way and having each other's backs out there,'' said MacDermid, who hadn't played the past four games for New Jersey but was on the ice for the opening faceoff. “l have a lot of respect for him (Rempe). He's a young kid trying to do his thing. I understand that."

Along with Rempe, New York defensemen Jacob Trouba and K'Andre Miller and forward Barclay Goodrow were ejected from the game. New Jersey defensemen Kevin Bahl and John Marino, and forwards Chris Tierney and MacDermid also received early exits.

The Rangers went on to win 4-3 on a late power-play goal by Chris Kreider.

"I had no idea that was going to happen. It was a spur of the moment thing,'' MacDermid said of the five simultaneous fights.

Miller fought Marino, Trouba battled Tierney, Goodrow went against Bahl and Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey fought New Jersey's Curtis Lazar. Vesey and Lazar remained in the game since they fought first and didn't receive additional punishment.

“There was a lot going on. Five fights to start the game. I don’t think anyone expected that,″ Devils interim head coach Travis Green said.

Green also exchanged words with Rangers coach Peter Laviolette between the benches after the fracas.

“I have no idea why Peter was upset,'' Green said. ”Their players were lining up fights before the game. We all know why it happened tonight. Something happened the game before."

All 10 players also received five-minute fighting penalties.

New York's Will Cuylle then fought New Jersey's Dawson Mercer at the 4:27 mark of the first period after Cuylle hit the Devils' Brendan Smith into the boards.

“It was just emotion more than anything,'' Laviolette said of his outburst. ”I think the guys battled hard for each other."