Eight ejected for brawl two seconds into NHL game

ESPN staff
January 19, 2014
There were 142 penalty minutes in the first five minutes between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames © Getty Images

The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames engaged in a wild first-period brawl on Saturday night which later carried over to Canucks coach John Tortorella being involved in an altercation in the hallway outside of the Flames' dressing room.

The opening minutes of the NHL game, which the Canucks won 3-2 in a shootout, was like a scene from the movie Slap Shot. It brought back memories of when teams such as the Broad Street Bullies and Big Bad Boston Bruins hit the ice.

"I don't think anybody expected that," said Flames defenceman Chris Butler, one of eight players ejected from the game. "It's been a while since something like that happened, five guys pairing off."

A league official told ESPN on Sunday morning the incident is being investigated by the NHL. "Details when and if appropriate," the source said.

The bad blood wasn't confined to the ice. At the end of the first period Canadian television network CBC captured Tortorella attempting to go into the Flames locker room at Rogers Arena. McGrattan pushed him away.

Flames coach Clint Malarchuk came out of the Flames dressing room after Tortorella and Calgary enforcer Brian McGrattan were separated. Malarchuk followed Tortorella, but was restrained by several members of Calgary's staff and McGrattan.

Much of the altercation appeared off camera, but another camera showed Vancouver defenceman Chris Tanev pulling Burrows back toward the Canucks dressing room.

Flames coach Bob Hartley was left shaking his head over Tortorella charging his team's dressing room. "I just don't understand," he said. "I got out of there. I don't need to get suspended or fined. There is nothing to be settled there. I just don't understand what was going on."

Defenceman Kevin Bieksa took the opening draw for Vancouver and a line brawl broke out as soon as the puck was dropped. Just two seconds had ticked off the clock when all five skaters from each team taking the opening face-off dropped their gloves and began throwing punches.

McGrattan was left bloodied in a fight with Vancouver tough guy Tom Sestito. After the fight Sestito patted McGrattan on the back of the head. Minor league call-up Kellan Lain's first game as a Canuck was brief. He was tossed for fighting with Calgary's Kevin Westgarth, who has no points in 21 games for the Flames. Also receiving game misconducts were Vancouver's Dale Weise plus defencemen Kevin Bieksa and Jason Garrison. For Calgary, it was Westgarth, Blair Jones, Ladislav Smid and Butler.

"They started their goon squad over there," said Sestito, who leads the NHL with 167 penalty minutes in 47 games. "I just don't think we're going to be backing down from guys."

Sestito and McGrattan remained in the game. In the aftermath of the brawl Tortorella could be seen yelling at the Flames bench and Hartley. "It's great that he has our back," Sestito said.

Later in the period, Calgary's Mark Giordano punched Vancouver's Alex Burrows in the face. Burrows was wearing a facemask to protect a broken jaw. It was his first game since December 1.

The teams combined for 188 penalty minutes in the first period - 142 penalty minutes in the first five minutes of the game and smaller skirmishes throughout the opening period. Calgary's Shane O'Brien and Vancouver's Zack Kassian each received 10-minute misconducts later in the period. A total of 204 penalty minutes were logged on Saturday night.

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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