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Big hits mean fights, much to the delight of Sabres' Gorges

PITTSBURGH – With staged fights between enforcers essentially a thing of the past, pugilistic battles typically come after a big hit. Many bemoan the fact that even clean checks result in fisticuffs.

Josh Gorges isn't among the many.

The Buffalo Sabres defenseman barreled through Montreal's Brendan Gallagher on Saturday, then had to answer for the legal blow by fighting Jordie Benn. Gorges wouldn't have it any other way.

"I love that fact about hockey," Gorges said Tuesday. "I love that it's a physical game. Guys are there to stick up for their teammates. That's what separates hockey from all the other sports. We're allowed to do that.

"Yeah, you sit in the box and you get a penalty, but he's out there doing his job, sticking up for his teammates. If one of our guys got hit, we'd go and do the same thing. It just sends a message to your team, I think, that you're there to stick up for each other.

"I think that's the great thing about hockey."

Buffalo entered Tuesday's game against Pittsburgh on a fighting run. There had been fights in three straight games, and all came after a hit.

Buffalo's Jake McCabe fought Tom Wilson after the Washington forward lambasted Sam Reinhart.

Jordan Nolan fought Michael Haley after the Florida forward high-sticked Zemgus Girgensons.

Gorges dropped the gloves with Benn.

The defenseman's fight came after he missed nine games with a lower-body injury. He was a healthy scratch for the opening three games, played in four straight then went down with the ailment.

Gorges will play in his second straight game Tuesday and hopes his physical play keeps him in the lineup.

"I've got to do what I can to, 1) help this team win games, and, 2) show that I can stay in the lineup and be someone that can be of some use," Gorges said in PPG Paints Arena. "If that means being a little more physical when the opportunity is there, then I've got to take advantage."

Gorges will skate with Nathan Beaulieu while Victor Antipin was expected to be the healthy scratch.

"He brings a lot of energy and attitude to the game," Sabres coach Phil Housley said of Gorges. "He answers the bell. That's the competitive nature in him. It's great to see that emotion come out."

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