While the Penguins will not be making any lasting memories this February 2nd, a decade ago one of the more memorable moments of this era of Penguins hockey unfolded before a sold out crowd at the then Consol Energy Center.
In the dying moments of a routine 3-0 shutout of the New York Islanders, former Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson etched his name in Pittsburgh Penguins franchise lore with a one punch knockout of his goaltending counterpart on the evening, Rick DiPietro.
This day in #PGHistory: Goalie Fight!— Pittsburgh Clothing Co. (@PGHClothingCo) February 2, 2018
In a rare occasion, goalies Brent Johnson and Rick Dipietro meet in the center of the ice for a little dance in the third period. Johnson would pick up two wins that night - with a final score of 3-0, Pittsburgh. (2011) pic.twitter.com/5EuKOG8Bbp
With less than 20 seconds remaining in the contest, Matt Cooke did what Matt Cooke does and the Islanders responded accordingly, setting off a chain of events that led to Johnson one-punching DiPietro.
Cooke collided with DiPietro, leading to a fracas in the corner that involved all skaters on the ice at the time. While the officials were sorting out that mess, Johnson inched his way up the ice and challenged Dipietro to fisticuffs. Dipietro obliged and off came the gloves.
Both referees, distracted by the ongoing commotion in the corner, recognized what was happening and rushed to prevent the goaltenders from engaging but arrived too late as Johnson and DiPietro were already squaring up.
In less time than it took him to egg his opponent on in the first place, Johnson had DiPietro on the ice with a brutal left hand haymaker that landed squarely on DiPietro’s cheek bone, dropping the Islanders goaltender before he could ever return the favor.
As a result, both goaltenders were tossed for the remaining 16 seconds of the game and it cost Johnson being credited with a shutout.
For DiPietro, price he paid was significantly higher. Johnson’s blow resulted in numerous facial fractures that kept DiPietro out for the next six weeks. Though he was able to recover and return, DiPietro only played another 16 career games after the incident.
Perhaps the greatest fallout from the entire incident occurred just eight days later when the Penguins headed to Long Island for a rematch. In what is commonly referred to as the “Trevor Gillies Game” the Penguins lost 9-3 while the two teams combined for over 200 penalty minutes in one of the most shameful displays of hockey in recent memory.