PITTSBURGH -- Boston Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron was one of a few players Sunday afternoon to participate in an optional practice, and when he exited the ice and went into the visitor's locker room at Consol Energy Center, his face resembled one of a heavyweight boxer.
Bergeron's right eye is swollen and discolored, his nose his stitched up and there are bruises behind his ear and on his neck, all a result of a fight with the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin during Boston's 3-0 win in Game 1 Saturday of the Eastern Conference finals.
When the second period ended, Bergeron and Malkin dropped the gloves at center ice in a spirited tussle between two players who rarely fight. After practice Sunday, Bergeron called it a heat of the moment action and wasn't really surprised it happened.
"It's just part of the playoffs, right?" Bergeron said. "We know the emotions are high and the intensity is high and games are big, so I'm not really surprised but at the same time it just happens.
"He grabbed me from the side and we kept pushing each other. There wasn't one particular thing that started it."
Game 1 was physical. It was sloppy and probably also had to do with the extended amount of time off between games for both teams. It was also heated, and while some of that should carry into Game 2 on Monday, both the Bruins and the Penguins will want to play more of their own style of game.
"From what I've seen in the past series, sometimes every game is played a little different," Bergeron said. "We're expecting a big game, obviously, I don't know if the physicality will carry over to Game 2 and if it is we've got to match it and make sure we're ready for a big game. We know they're going to come out hard."
As Bergeron was recounting his bout with Malkin, Bruins veteran pugilist Shawn Thornton stood in the other corner of the locker room giving his tale of the tape.
"We had to do [pictures] today for something, so I told him in the last six team pictures I had a shiner, so welcome to my world," Thornton said with a laugh.
"I think everyone knows how much of a fan I am of [Bergeron]," added Thornton. "When he gets that riled up it's usually for a good reason. I like it. He's not afraid to step up when he has to. We're behind him 100 percent and it gets the guys fired up when you see him get that emotionally involved. If you weren't into it, it probably forces you to be into it at that point."
The last time Bergeron showed that type of rage was during the 2011 Stanley Cup finals against the Vancouver Canucks. In Game 1 of that series, the Canucks' Alex Burrows bit the gloved finger of Bergeron, which set off the assistant captain.
Bergeron isn't expecting he'll need to drop the gloves again anytime soon, but he and the Bruins are ready for another rough game on Monday.
"They played a physical game and were in our face," Bergeron said. "We have to respond and stand up for each other."