Penguins fought a little more last season. They weren’t particularly good at it |

Penguins fought a little more last season. They weren’t particularly good at it

Jonathan Bombulie
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins’ Garrett Wilson lands a punch against the Blue Jackets’ Nick Foligno during a fight in the second period Thursday, March 7, 2019 at PPG Paints Arena.

The Pittsburgh Penguins grew a little bit more ornery last season, but once the gloves were dropped, they didn’t have a whole lot of success.

Those are the takeaways from a detailed look at all 16 fighting majors the team picked up last season.

League wide, fights continue to become less and less frequent. Last year, there were 0.19 fights per game, which was even with the year before but down from 0.60 a decade prior.

The Penguins, on the other hand, have seen their fight total increase incrementally since bottoming out at nine in 2015-16, going from 12 to 15 to 16. The team record for fights in a season is 95 set in 1988-89.

The Penguins ranked tied for ninth in the league with 16 fighting majors last season, 10 off the league-leading Boston Bruins.

Marcus Pettersson and Jamie Oleksiak led the team with three fights apiece. The players responsible for seven of the 16 fights (Oleksiak, Garrett Wilson, Riley Sheahan and Tanner Pearson) are no longer on the roster.

According to the voters at, the Penguins went 2-10-4 in the 16 fights with the only wins going to Oleksiak against Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds and Zach Aston-Reese against Florida’s Colton Sceviour.

Here’s a look back at all 16 scraps. Winners chosen by the voters at

Oct. 23 vs. Edmonton

Jamie Oleksiak vs. Zack Kassian

The circumstances: The Oilers were down 1-0 in the first period, looking for a spark, when Kassian ran into Oleksiak in the corner. A heavyweight bout ensued.

The fight: Mostly wrestling between two of the bigger players in the league.

The winner: Draw

Nov. 19 vs. Buffalo

Riley Sheahan vs. Jake McCabe

The circumstances: McCabe stapled Zach Aston-Reese’s head to the boards with an illegal hit and Sheahan stuck up for his teammate.

The fight: Sheahan only dropped one of his gloves and McCabe controlled the bout. It’s the only fight in Sheahan’s 447-game NHL career.

The winner: McCabe

Dec. 1 vs. Philadelphia

Jamie Oleksiak vs. Wayne Simmonds

The circumstances: The Penguins jumped out to an early 1-0 lead and Simmonds, one of the league’s most accomplished fighters, was looking to change the momentum.

The fight: Perhaps Oleksiak’s best fight in a Penguins uniform. He landed a series of rights, absorbed only one significant blow and waved off the linesmen for a while to signify his work was not yet done.

The winner: Oleksiak

Dec. 19 vs. Washington

Jamie Oleksiak vs. Tom Wilson

The circumstances: It was Wilson’s first regular-season game against the Penguins since he gave Zach Aston-Reese a broken jaw and a concussion with an illegal hit in a playoff game the year before. Everyone knew an attempt at retribution was in the cards.

The fight: Wilson got a bit of a jump on Oleksiak and knocked him cold with a hard right hand. It was Oleksiak’s last fight with the Penguins. He suffered a concussion and was traded back to Dallas a little more than a month later.

The winner: Wilson

Dec. 29 vs. St. Louis

Zach Aston-Reese vs. Joel Edmundson

The circumstances: As Brian Dumoulin scored to give the Penguins a 4-0 lead, Edmundson gives Aston-Reese a gloved punch that he didn’t appreciate.

The fight: Aston-Reese threw a serious uppercut at the 6-foot-4 Edmundson, who scored the takedown.

The winner: Edmundson

Jan. 8 vs. Florida

Marcus Pettersson vs. MacKenzie Weegar

The circumstances: The Panthers were trailing 4-0 and an agitated Weegar was looking for trouble. He threw a hit on Riley Sheahan and confronted Pettersson.

The fight: Weegar landed all the bout’s punches on Pettersson, who is willing to fight when the situation calls for it, but is neither enthusiastic about nor particularly skilled in pugilism.

The winner: Weegar

Jan. 8 vs. Florida

Zach Aston-Reese vs. Colton Sceviour

The circumstances: Aston-Reese flattened Frank Vatrano with a head-high hit earlier in the game and Sceviour was looking for revenge.

The fight: He didn’t get it. Aston-Reese landed several significant strikes, including a hard right to the temple. Aston-Reese was injured in the scuffle and missed the next month.

The winner: Aston-Reese

Jan. 12 vs. Los Angeles

Marcus Pettersson vs. Matt Luff

The circumstances: Again a largely unwilling participant, Pettersson dropped his gloves when a routine net-front battle escalated.

The fight: Luff pushed Pettersson into the back of the net as the pair grappled.

The winner: Luff

Jan. 30 vs. Tampa Bay

Evgeni Malkin vs. Steven Stamkos

The circumstances: Malkin took a hard hit from Dan Girardi earlier in the game, and with the Penguins taking a 4-0 lead, tempers boiled over. The superstars exchanged slashes and cross-checks before gloves were dropped.

The fight: Malkin landed on top after a few punches were thrown.

The winner: Draw

Feb. 1 vs. Ottawa

Garrett Wilson vs. Mark Borowiecki

The circumstances: Wilson crushed defenseman Christian Jaros with a hit into the boards and Borowiecki, a tough customer, sought retribution.

The fight: Borowiecki buried Wilson under a flurry of lefts.

The winner: Borowiecki

Feb. 9 vs. Tampa Bay

Teddy Blueger vs. Adam Erne

The circumstances: Blueger and Erne had words during a previous meeting between the teams, and when they paired off during a routine net-front scrum, gloves were dropped and punches were thrown.

The fight: Not many punches were landed. Blueger scored the takedown.

The winner: Draw

Feb. 9 vs. Tampa Bay

Jack Johnson vs. Alex Killorn

The circumstances: Just as a net-front scrum caused by Patric Hornqvist began to settle down, Killorn and Johnson, both agitated from events that happened earlier in the shift, paired off and fought.

The fight: Both players threw bombs, but no significant blows landed.

The winner: Killorn

Feb. 16 vs. Calgary

Marcus Pettersson vs. Sam Bennett

The circumstances: Pettersson wasn’t an innocent bystander in this one. He blew up Calgary’s Austin Czarnik with a high hit and Bennett made him answer for his actions.

The fight: Bennett was in control throughout.

The winner: Bennett

Feb. 16 vs. Calgary

Jared McCann vs. Rasmus Andersson

The circumstances: The Flames led 5-2 and a scrum broke out off a faceoff at the end of the second period. Andersson hit McCann with a gloved punch and a fight broke out from there.

The fight: A few punches were thrown before McCann landed on top.

The winner: Draw

Feb. 21 vs. San Jose

Evander Kane vs. Tanner Pearson

The circumstances: Evander Kane reportedly skated to the Penguins bench during a timeout and listened in as coaches drew up a play. When called out, Kane said there was no one in a Penguins uniform who could do anything to stop him. A minor melee broke out, with Sidney Crosby and Micheal Haley exchanging unpleasantries. Eventually, Kane and Pearson paired off.

The fight: Kane had no problem handling Pearson.

The winner: Kane

March 7 vs. Columbus

Garrett Wilson vs. Nick Foligno

The circumstances: Adam McQuad stirred up some bad feelings with a pair of hits on Patric Hornqvist and Dominik Simon, and the heat transferred to Wilson and Foligno, who squared off.

The fight: A good, long heavyweight bout. Wilson suffered a cut to his forehead when the pair tumbled to the ice while grappling at the end of the fight.

The winner: Foligno

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all offseason long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Penguins
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