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DENVER – Mirco Mueller was ready for his first career NHL fight.
After Ryan Getzlaf slammed his gloves to the ice following some pushing and shoving with the Sharks rookie, Mueller did the same, and started floating like a butterfly before the linesmen intervened and broke it up before any punches were thrown on Sunday in Anaheim.
“He just came after me. I think he cross-checked me, and I cross-checked him back. It started kind of that way,” said Mueller, who added he's been in two fights in the last three years.
“I wasn’t going to initiate it, but as soon as he asked me, he’s one of their best players. I thought I was going to take one for the team, or at least try to and get him off the ice. Sure enough, we scored after.”
What did his teammates think?
“They were laughing, but I think they were pretty pumped too. It was kind of a mix.”
“I know how to handle myself. As I said, I was just going to take one for the team and try to get him off the ice as long as possible.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s marker at 10:03 of the second period, after coincidental minors to Mueller and Getzlaf, gave San Jose a 3-0 lead at the time.
It was one of a several nasty incidents between the Sharks and Ducks, in a game that featured 165 penalty minutes. Although Mueller and Getzlaf didn’t actually fight, it was a precursor of later events in a wild third period that seemed to feature a scrum after every whistle.
Mueller was one of a number of unlikely combatants for the Sharks, who also saw Joe Pavelski, James Sheppard and Justin Braun get physical with various Anaheim players.
“It’s nice to see guys step up for one another,” Vlasic said after the game. “Guys like Mueller, Shep, Braun, Pavs fighting that don’t normally fight. … Guys love it, it doesn’t matter who it is, stands up and fights or hits or gets in somebody’s face. Guys are excited about that.”
Todd McLellan indicated Mueller’s run-in with Getzlaf was reflective of the rookie defenseman’s commitment to physical play and demeanor.
“Mirco, physically he’s been very confident with his ability to carry himself on the ice. We haven’t seen the extra-curricular stuff, but he hasn’t shied away from any type of battle or confrontation or anything physical. For a 19-year-old, especially for a defenseman, that’s not an easy thing, so he’s done a good job with that,” McLellan said.