New York Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri sought to avenge his teammate after a big hit.  He did so, but effectively took himself out of Tuesday night’s game in the process.

Florida Panthers blueliner Radko Gudas delivered a heavy body check that separated New York’s Brock Nelson from the puck, knocking the Isles forward to the ice. Palmieri took exception to the legal hit and charged as Gudas, tossing off his gloves. Both players landed punches as linesmen Travis Toomey and Mitch Hunt moved in to restrain the players.

No penalty was called on Gudas for the hit. Palmieri, though, picked up 17 minutes in penalties, with two and 10 for instigating, along with the matching five for fighting.


From the NHL rulebook:

An instigator of an altercation shall be a player who by his actions or demeanor demonstrates any/some of the following criteria: distance traveled; gloves off first; first punch thrown; menacing attitude or posture; verbal instigation or threats; conduct in retaliation to a prior game (or season) incident; obvious retribution for a previous incident in the game or season.

A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting and a ten-minute misconduct.


This is not Palmieri’s first instigator penalty for avenging a hit.  In November 2019, Palmieri went after Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen for a hard hit on Devils rookie Jack Hughes.

Referees Kyle Rehman and Garrett Rank handed out their second instigator penalty in two consecutive games. The night prior, Rehman and Rank issued an instigator penalty to Tampa’s Anthony Cirelli for starting a fight with the Islanders’ Brock Nelson.

Ten instigator penalties have been handed out this season. Referee Kyle Rehman has been on the ice for three of them.

Last season saw 17 instigator penalties over the course of the entire season.  Perhaps the league is quietly cracking down a bit on fights after clean hits. If so, good call.