Justin Abdelkader: ‘Sometimes, altercations like that happen.’

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To say that things broke down towards the end of last night’s Lightning victory would be putting it lightly. Justin Abdelkader, a big player in the late-game festivities, thinks things will calm down as the series continues.

“It’s been a physical series,” he told the Detroit Free Press today. “Each game kind of takes its own shape. Yeah, I don’t expect anything else. I think both teams are focused on playing hockey and winning games.”

He also explained what led to his role in the brawl.

“It was kind of a play in front of the net where (Brad Richards) Richie had slashed (AndrejSustr’s stick,” he said. “And then Sustr engaged with him and (Nikita) Nesterov kind of jumped in and put Richie in a headlock. Richie was in a tough place with both those guys … I just went to grab Nesterov. Before I know it, I’m getting jumped from behind on my back. And then I’m at the bottom of the pile, which is always really dangerous there. Sliding myself out. Obviously, there’s some punches thrown. Obviously, emotions run high at the end of a game. Wasn’t looking to go out and fight anyone or to do anything. But sometimes, altercations like that happen.”

Abdelkader’s physicality has brought about some untimely penalties in the first two games of the series, most notably the tripping penalty he took while the Red Wings were already shorthanded last night.

“Our focus is to play 5-on-5 hockey. As a 5-on-5 team, we’re a very good team.”

Game three of the series is tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena, with the Red Wings trailing 2-0 in the series.