Flames, Wild continue bad blood with three early fights

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When the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames met this past week all hell broke loose, resulting in a pair of suspensions to Flames teammates Mark Giordano and Ryan Lomberg.

Giordano was hit with a two-game suspension for kneeing Mikko Koivu, while Lomberg was suspended two games of his own for leaving the bench during a line change to start a fight with Wild defenseman Mathew Dumba. That fight was in response to a big hit by Dumba that injured Mikael Backlund.

A lot of that bad blood spilled over into Saturday’s 2-1 Flames win that featured three fights early in the first period.

Those fights started just 40 seconds into the game when Dumba found himself in a fight with Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk.

Dumba ended up exiting the game after the first period and did not return. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau had no update on his status after the game except to say they would know more on Monday.

The fisticuffs did not stop there. Later in the period Giordano fought Minnesota’s Matt Hendricks.

But there was more! The most unexpected fight of the three featured Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter, who has not been involved in a fight since the 2009 season, dropping the gloves with Sam Bennett

All of that happened in the first 18 minutes of the game.

But Giordano and Tkachuk did not just impact the game with their fists — they also scored goals.

Giordano continued what has been a  career year (and maybe even a Norris Trophy worthy season) by scoring a shorthanded goal mid-way through the first period to give the Flames an early 1-0 lead, while Tkachuk scored his 14th goal of the season in the third period to help give the Flames the win.

David Rittich also continued his surprising play in the Flames’ net by stopping 34 of the 35 shots he faced.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL suspends Flames’ Giordano, Lomberg


Thursday’s game in Calgary between the Flames and Wild had quite a bit of chaos that resulted in the NHL’s Department of Player Safety issuing a pair of suspensions on Friday.

First, Flames defenseman Mark Giordano was given a two-game suspension for kneeing Wild forward Mikko Koivu.

The Minnesota captain was injured on the play and has since been sent home from the team’s ongoing road trip. The play happened mid-way through the third period of the Flames’ 2-0 win. Giordano was assessed a two-minute minor for tripping on the play.

Here is a look at it as well as the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.

Giordano will miss the Flames’ upcoming games against the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers this weekend before being eligible to return next week against the Philadelphia Flyers. Giordano is the Flames’ top defender and having one of the best seasons of his career with 29 total points (three goals, 26 assists) in 29 games this season while playing close to 25 minutes per game.

Later in the period, Giordano’s teammate, Ryan Lomberg, was ejected from the game after leaving the bench during a legal line change to initiate a fight with Minnesota’s Matthew Dumba.

[Related: Flames’ Lomberg ejected for jumping Dumba after questionable hit]

That altercation came just after Dumba injured Flames forward Mikael Backlund with a big open ice hit.

Lomberg’s penalty for starting a fight in the last five minutes comes with an automatic one-game suspension. The NHL decided on Friday to add an additional game to that suspension, meaning he too will miss the team’s next two games.

Dumba’s hit on Backlund was deemed to be a legal body check by the league.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Flames’ Lomberg ejected for jumping Wild’s Dumba after questionable hit


(UPDATE: Lomberg has been automatically suspended for one game and Flames head coach Bill Peters has been fined $10,000, per the NHL Department of Player Safety, as per rule 46.22, Instigating in the Final Five Minutes of Regulation. He’ll also have a hearing today for “a legal line change for the purpose of starting an altercation.” That could end up being a fine or multi-game ban. In other discipline news from the gameMark Giordano will have a hearing today for kneeing Mikko Koivu.)

A wild finished between the Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild saw a massive (questionable?) hit, an ejection and a seven-minute power play on Thursday.

A heated contest came to a head with under a minute left in the third period with the Flames holding a 2-0 lead.

Wild defenseman Matt Dumba stepped up in the Flames zone and delivered a hit to Mikael Backlund. There are a couple of angles to watch. One of them shows Dumba jumping into the hit and the other shows his shoulder hitting Backlund square in the face.

Here’s the tape:

Backlund was forced out of the game and could be out for a while, according to Sportsnet’s John Shannon.

Appears he was in concussion protocol, as well.

The Flames didn’t take too kindly to the hit and Ryan Lomberg came off the bench on a line change and made a b-line right to Dumba, jumping him and getting one punch in before the refs piled on top of the two.

Lomberg got two minutes for instigating, five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct for his efforts. The power play for Minnesota didn’t amount to anything as Mike Smith stood tall for the 31-save shutout.

Dumba was not penalized on the play.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: Backstrom nets hat trick; Wilson, Johnson get ejected

Associated Press

Three stars

1. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals

Tom Wilson’s tomfoolery shouldn’t detract from the night Nicklas Backstrom had on Friday. Backstrom recorded a hat trick, including scoring the game-winner and assisting on a fourth Capitals goal for a four-point night. The hat trick goal was placed into an empty net and the first goal of the game was him, as well. The secondary assist he picked up led to Andre Burakovsky‘s third-period marker that put the Caps up 3-1.

A man known for his elite passing abilities, the three-goal night was just Backstrom’s second of his career.

2. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks

For roughly 54 minutes of the game, Curtis McElhinney was penciled into this spot. Just a day after the Carolina Hurricanes placed both faith in him and pressure on him following the waiving of Scott Darlin, McElhinney looked destined for his first shutout of the season.

It was not to be, of course. The Ducks scored to force overtime and then Ryan Getzlaf slotted home the winner in the extra frame. And lost in the shuffle, perhaps, was the performance of Gibson, who made 33 saves in the win.

The Ducks don’t score a lot of goals, so Gibson needs to keep as many pucks out of the back of the net to make up for the lack of run support. He did that on Friday, giving Anaheim a chance to win, which they obliged.

3. Mikael Backlund, Calgary Flames

Backlund put his stamp on the game early, scoring 36 seconds into the first period. He’d then give the Flames a 3-1 lead to seal it with 32 seconds remaining in the game and assisted on the 4-1 goal with eight seconds remaining.

A three-point night for Backlund, then, who is now riding a three-game point streak. Calgary sits atop the Pacific Division with 32 points. They’re 6-3-1 in their past 10 games.

Ejection(s) of the night

Highlights of the night


Gritty, still king:


Head fake:

One-hander in OT:



Panthers 3, Sabres 2 (OT)

Capitals 6, Devils 3

Ducks 2, Hurricanes 1 (OT)

Flames 4, Kings 1

Blues 3, Avalanche 2 (OT)

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Saturday’s Battle of Alberta was gloriously epic

Associated Press


At times on Saturday night at the Saddledome in Calgary, it seethed.

And it was glorious. Mightily, brilliantly, glorious.

Saturday night was alright for mayhem and the Battle of Alberta had it in droves.

A great game of hockey bookmarked massive hits, fights and hate. Did I mention hate?

The montage above was just first-period highlights.

Let’s recap:

  • The Leon Drasaitl hit on Matthew Tkachuk knocked the latter out of the game for a while
  • Nurse clearly threw another bomb after the linesmen go in between him Sam Bennett
  • Nurse was telling the linesman to let him and not in those exact words
  • Connor McDavid and Mikael Backlund wrestled

The hit that led to Nurse and Bennett scraping is here:

The hate resumed in the second period, because of course it did.

Milan Lucic was engaged in this game, a sight for sore eyes for Oilers fans.

Here’s a sample of that engagement:

Now, if Lucic can bottle that and take some sips before each game going forward…

Oilers Twitter seemed quite pleased with No. 27 during the game.

Calgary prevailed in the game, winning 4-2 after scoring four unanswered as the Oilers squandered a 2-0 lead.

Neither team started their struggling No. 1 netminders. David Rittich for Calgary was the better of the two backups in the game, stopping three breakaways in the game. Edmonton simply couldn’t douse the Flames, who kept it coming in the third frame when the Oilers started to fizzle out.

Bonus: For old times’ sake, here’s the scrap of all scraps in the Battle of Alberta:

John Tortorella would have been proud.

Let the hype begin for the next game in the famed series on Dec. 9 in Edmonton.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck