Ryan Reaves joked this week that one of his only regrets was that he might not get to fight in front of the home fans at T-Mobile Arena.
He got his wish Tuesday, throwing down with defenseman Adam McQuaid as he and the Golden Knights beat up McQuaid and the New York Rangers, 4-2.
“I’m sure they’ve been waiting for it too, but you can always hear the crowd, that’s for sure,” Reaves said. “I’m glad they were behind me on that one.”
The fight started when McQuaid flattened Vegas forward Max Pacioretty, who hit the ice hard after the puck was away from him. Reaves hopped over the boards and he and McQuaid went to the dance floor.
It was a heavyweight fight, with Reaves checking in at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds and McQuaid at 6-4, 210. The two squared off at center ice for 20 seconds, with McQuaid getting in an early strike before Reaves pounded him into submission.
He scored himself 10-7 for the round.
“To see (Reaves) step up and go in there for me, and to see him do so well in the fight, yeah, he’s a big boy,” Pacioretty said. “I wouldn’t want to take one of those and he did a great job.”
It was Reaves’ third fight of the season and the Golden Knights’ fourth. It was the first by a Vegas player since Reaves went toe-to-toe with Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki on Nov. 8.
His teammates seemed to appreciate it. Jonathan Marchessault said the team wasn’t happy with McQuaid’s hit, and Brandon Pirri said he’s glad to have Reaves on his side.
Pirri was in a fight of his own last week, playing Reaves’ role in the AHL when he took exception to San Antonio’s Sammy Blais' hit on Golden Knights 19-year-old prospect Erik Brannstrom. Though, Pirri conceded, “mine didn’t look like that” in regards to Reaves’ kerfuffle.
It’s part of the hockey code, and no one on the Golden Knights bench was upset with trading five penalty minutes for the insurance of knowing their stars have their backs covered.
“Nobody is going to come into our team and try and intimidate us, especially going after our top players,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “Guys are going to stand up for each other.”
Reaves has the reputation of a fighter, a trend he has bucked in favor of scoring this year. He has a career-best eight goals on the year, and joked that he’s approaching a career milestone.
“Back in the day I’m getting 14 (fights) a year, and I’m definitely not going to hit double-digits probably this year,” he said. “That’ll be the first time I had more goals than fights.
“It’s a little easier on the hand, that’s for sure.”