Eric Nystrom wasn't surprised to be trading punches with Ian Laperriere.
The two have a bit of a history, and when Nystrom's Calgary Flames take the Pepsi Center ice in Denver against Laperriere's Colorado Avalanche tonight in a rematch of Tuesday's 4-1 Flames victory, it's entirely possible the two could find themselves dropping the gloves for a third time in two seasons.
When the pair collided in the neutral zone in the opening minutes of Tuesday's division battle, Nystrom only had to peek at the number to know what was going to happen.
"He's that type of player. He just finished his check on me and looked at me -- you just know," said Nystrom.
"A guy like that is looking for one thing."
A boxing match. Maybe a little revenge.
"I split him open pretty good in a fight last year in Colorado, early in the year," recalled Nystrom, who figured it was a good opportunity for both of the energetic players to try and spark their teams.
"It's good to get the team into it early.
"You try to not get the crap beat out of you. You try to get a little momentum, get the building energized."
A spirited scrap -- just like their first one in early November last year when Nystrom cut Laperriere over the left eye -- can energize the building.
"He's been doing it for 15 years. He tells me he hasn't won too many, but it pays the bills," said Nystrom with a laugh.
Words were exchanged after Tuesday's fisticuffs. Unlike many of today's pests, though, the ones that come out of Laperriere's mouth are usually kind.
"He's just a good sport. He's a sportsmanship type guy," said Nystrom.
"He said, 'Good job.' "