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VIDEO: Devils' Stephen Gionta isn't welcome on Panthers bench

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

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Stephen Gionta isn't a very big man. The Devils forward stands only 5 feet 7, so flipping him onto the bench with a hip check is pretty impressive.

You'd think that's the highlight of this video above. You're wrong.

Sure, the hip check from Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is an absolute thing of beauty. We love a well-executed hip check, especially one that puts a player onto the bench. So let's appreciate that for what it was.

However, what makes this play even more interesting was what Panthers defenseman T.J. Brennan did from the bench. Again, seeing how Gionta is so short, he decided to help Gionta get back on the ice.

OK, on second though he just shoved him onto the ice as Gionta was crawling over the boards. Gionta went flying and was none too happy about it when he hit the ice, popping back up and saying a few words to the bench and Brennan.

Really, that's a dirty move from Brennan and one that could be pretty bad. Gionta ended up being OK but he could have landed very awkwardly on the ice or perhaps hit his head on the way down. There's a reason Gionta was upset about it.

In the end, the Devils would get their revenge on the Panthers by pounding them 6-2 in what was Ilya Kovalchuk's first game back. The win means the Devils stay alive in the playoff race for another day with the Rangers looming on Sunday in another make-or-break game.

S/t to Kukla's Korner

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