Boston and Dallas fought three times in the first four seconds, Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron scored in the opening 1:20 and the Bruins went on to beat the Stars 6-3 in one of the wildest games of the season.
Many of the fans in the sellout crowd of 17,565 were still finding their seats when Stars agitator Steve Ott bloodied Boston's Gregory Campbell one second after the puck was dropped. That was followed by Boston's Shawn Thornton fighting Stars forward Krys Barch one second later. Boston's Adam McQuaid then pounded Dallas' Brian Sutherby just four seconds in as the crowd roared.
"I don't really know what set (the fights) off, maybe just a little chest-thumping just to start it off," Dallas captain Brenden Morrow said. "I think you use those things to create momentum, and they could go either way. We just made some bad decisions. We were just as excited as they were, but we were just a little bit more reckless. They deserved that lead they got."
The Stars haven't visited Boston since October 2008 -- but that game produced 146 penalty minutes and, obviously, some hard feelings.
"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."
Andrew Raycroft's night didn't last much longer than the early fisticuffs. The Bruins went from fighting to scoring as Lucic scored at the 35-second mark and Bergeron made it 2-0 just 45 seconds later. Dallas coach Marc Crawford quickly hooked Raycroft, a former Bruin, in favor of Kari Lehtonen.
"He didn't have a very good outing in his last outing, so we had a short leash on him," Crawford said of his decision to yank Raycroft so early. "First two shots go in, we just felt it was time to make a change. It's unfortunate because he's battled really well this year."
The goalie change didn't stop the fights -- or Boston's onslaught on the scoreboard.
Boston's Andrew Ference and Dallas' Adam Burish squared off in the fourth fight of the period at 3:51. Bergeron scored again at 9:35 -- his fourth goal in the past four games overall and against Dallas. Shawn Thornton beat Lehtonen with a slap shot from the right circle at 16:01 for a 4-0 lead.
But the Stars made the Bruins work for their win.
Karlis Skrastins scored his third goal of the season at 10:36 of the second period. Tuukka Rask made 10 of his 30 saves to help the Bruins kill off Daniel Paille's five-minute major for an illegal check to the head late in the period, but Morrow cut the margin to 4-2 with a shorthanded goal 45 seconds into the third period. Brad Richards closed the gap to one goal at 3:33.
However, rookie Tyler Seguin gave the Bruins some breathing room when he scored less than two minutes later. Brad Marchand, who finished with a goal and two assists, added an empty-net goal with 2:20 remaining.
"The fifth goal was a tough one," Crawford said. "But we made a game of it."
The four fights and 91 penalty minutes would have been a warmup act for the teams' meeting 30 years ago in Boston -- the then-Minnesota North Stars won 5-1 at Boston Gatden on Feb. 26, 1981, in a game that featured 406 penalty minutes.
"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," Marchand said.
The Stars have more immediate problems. After beginning 2011 on a 7-0-1 run, they've lost four of their last five. The four defeats have been by a combined 24-9 margin.
"We're playing top teams, but we're a top team," Ott said. "We've got a good group of players in here and have been hard to play against all season long. We're going to have to find that gear that pushed us through the last couple of months, and we need to show how good of a team we are by playing together every single night. It's going to be tough hockey the rest of the way."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report