The Associated Press
DETROIT–Luke Witkowski called it old-time hockey. The Calgary Flames called it just plain stupid.
The Flames were unhappy with the way last night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings started, but they were appalled by the way it finished.
With 5:56 to go in Detroit’s 8-2 victory, Red Wings’ forward Luke Witkowski went after Flames’ forward Brett Kulak.
Their fight escalated into a full-fledged line brawl when Witkowski, who had been escorted off the ice by the linesmen, tried to return to the fray and was jabbed by the stick of Calgary forward Matthew Tkachuk.
Witkowski was assessed a fighting major, two 10-minute misconducts, and a game misconduct, and probably should expect to hear from the NHL about additional discipline.
“That’s what I like to call old-time hockey,” Witkowski said.
“I think it’s good for the game,” he added. “It brings fans into the sport.”
The Flames begged to differ, using other adjectives to describe the fight and Witkowski.
“Wisniewski, or whatever his name is, was just an absolute wrecking ball trying to start stuff, starting a complete circus with how many minutes left?” mused Tkachuk, who was assessed a spearing major.
“It’s a joke that a guy like that would . . . just do something pretty stupid that kind of started everything.
“And then [he] turns back and chirps our whole bench, didn’t want to go anywhere, so I just went over there to give him a little poke and tell him just to get out of here,” Tkachuk added.
“He was just looking for an excuse to come back. It’s just stupid.”
One of the other bouts saw Detroit’s Anthony Mantha and Calgary’s Travis Hamonic fall through an open gate near the Red Wings’ bench.
Mantha fell on top, kept pounding away at Hamonic, and was given a fighting major and two game misconducts.
“He’s a good young player, but he’s a young player and he’ll learn that there’s a code in those sort of things,” Hamonic said.
“He’ll be on the other side of it one day and realize that’s probably not the way you act.”
Mantha punished the Flames in the traditional manner, as well, scoring a pair of power-play goals.
He added an assist, giving him a Gordie Howe hat trick–a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game.
“I was joking with [Calgary’s Micheal] Ferland [who had a goal and an assist] before the third that we should go so we could both get our ‘Gordie,’ but I was really thinking about getting a regular hat trick, not that one,” Mantha said.
Wings’ coach Jeff Blashill was far more excited by the payload Mantha delivered with his gloves on.
“Having him net front on the power play has helped him learn the value of going to the net,” Blashill noted.
“I think that’s a huge part of Mantha’s development.
“He’s learned to be a weapon and when you’re a weapon there, you score goals,” he added.
Andreas Athanasiou had a pair of goals while Dylan Larkin, Luke Glendening, Justin Abdelkader, and Gustav Nyquist also scored for Detroit.
Ferland and Johnny Gaudreau replied for the Flames.
For all intents and purposes, the game was over by the end of the first period after the Wings raced to a 4-1 lead.
“I don’t think we were prepared to play,” said Flames’ coach Glen Gulutzan.
“We were light on our sticks and that was evident in the goals.
“We were getting embarrassed and we weren’t competing,” he added.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Chicago dumped the N.Y. Rangers 6-3 and Anaheim doubled Boston 4-2.