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Matthew Tkachuk, Zack Kassian talk big-time trash after brawl

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(The Department of Player Safety announced that Zack Kassian will face a Monday hearing.)

Following their violent exchange and the Flames taking advantage for a 4-3 win vs. the Oilers, you’d wonder if Zack Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk settled down. Instead, the two added more fireworks by trading barbs after Tkachuk delivered hits and Kassian cascaded punches on the “young punk.”

A quick recap of the events

  • During the first period, Tkachuk leveled Kassian with a hard hit. It looked like Tkachuk made contact with Kassian’s head, but no penalty was called.
  • Late in the second, the big moment happened. Watch in the video above and you’ll see that Tkachuk landed another borderline check on Kassian. Kassian reacted with vengeance and furious anger, ragdolling Tkachuk around and delivering a vicious attack.
  • Tkachuk once again avoided penalties for his hits. Kassian received a misconduct, and most importantly, a double-minor for roughing.
  • The Flames ended up scoring the game-winning goal during their ensuing power play opportunities.

Kassian, Tkachuk trade trash talk after the game

If you want to cut to the chase and just see some of the main comments, the tweet below captures the gold. Just be warned: the language is a little, maybe, blue from Kassian in particular? You may smell wafts of toxic masculinity, or at least “locker room talk.” Earmuff your kids, in other words.

Glorious, glorious, mutual disdain.

If you’d rather not click on video:

  • Kassian called Tkachuk a “young punk” and then a-not-family-friendly p-word. Kassian then accused Tkachuk of dodging fights with him, claiming that the old excuse of Kassian being “a fourth-liner” no longer applies.
  • More fun talk from Kassian revolves around how much he wishes this was a playoff series where the two teams would just keep bashing heads in a compressed period of time. Allow me to request more Battles of Alberta, please.
  • Tkachuk gets the check and mate, though. First, Tkachuk said that if Kassian doesn’t want to get hit, “stay off the tracks.” Tkachuk wondered why Kassian didn’t “learn” after the first time.
  • Tkachuk turned the knife big time at the end of his statement, saying that if Kassian reacts and takes a penalty, “we’ll take the power play, we’ll take the game-winner, and we’ll move on to first place.”
  • Ouch. Tkachuk’s barb was so good it needed a reactionary bullet point.

It wasn’t just those two flapping gums, either. Sportsnet’s Pat Steinberg reports that Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson razzed Kassian after the game.

“They’ve got a lot of pretenders out there. It’s really nice to beat those guys,” Andersson said during Steinberg’s postgame show.

“That’s one of the biggest coward moves I’ve ever seen from Kassian. We make guys like that pay. That was a coward move…that’s the kind of player he is.”

Comments spicy enough to burn your tongue.

Kassian can get a swing at Tkachuk soon enough

Feel free to disagree, but I chalk this up as either Tkachuk 2 or Tkachuk 1, Kassian 0.

Tkachuk correctly stated that the Flames are now in first place in the Pacific, and they’ve won five in a row. The Oilers, meanwhile, sit as the West’s first wild card.

Kassian gets something reasonably close to his wish. While the two teams don’t face off again in the next week, they do lock horns again soon. The teams end January and begin February with a home-and-home set. Then they finish the 2019-20 regular season with a game in Calgary on April 4.

The Flames won the first two games in the season series in 2019-20, so they’re thriving by the metric of “Living well is the best revenge.” Will Kassian get the best of Tkachuk yet? I have no clue, but I’m ordering up as much popcorn as I can find for their future meetings, either way.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Zack Kassian snaps on Matthew Tkachuk, throws punches in wild attack

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(The Department of Player Safety announced that Zack Kassian will face a Monday hearing.)

Just, wow. Zack Kassian absolutely lost his mind on Matthew Tkachuk during Saturday’s 4-3 Flames win over the Oilers. While many probably responded with “understandable” at losing your cool at Tkachuk, Kassian responded to the pest in an extreme way.

Yes, even for Tkachuk, whose pesty play borders on Kaufman-like troll art.

[Speaking of trolling, they exchanged serious trash talk after the game.]

The first hit

“The Battle of Alberta” often brings the heat, and Saturday appears to be a prime edition.

Tkachuk set the stage for Kassian rage with this first hit, which certainly qualifies as questionable:

From here, it looked like Tkachuk made contact with Kassian’s head, but there was no penalty. Maybe that made Kassian even angrier? Really, a long game of Tkachuk jawing and having that freaking mouthpiece hanging out would be enough to wear on even the Zen-like among us.

Another Tkachuk hit, and then lots of Kassian punches

So here’s where things really got out of hand.

Tkachuk leveled Kassian with yet another aggressive check, and that was enough. Kassian responded with a stunning flurry of violence on Tkachuk that you really need to see to believe. He even ragdolls Tkachuk during that attack. Watch it, probably with your jaw dropped, in the video above this post’s headline.

Again: wow.

Optics-wise, you’d think that Kassian might see supplemental discipline. That was an epic meltdown, one where the “fight” seemed like it should be over at least once.

While time will tell if the NHL decides to suspend Kassian at some point, the gritty winger put the Oilers in a tough spot. Kassian received a misconduct, but most importantly, a double-minor for roughing late in the second. The Flames began the third period with a golden opportunity, and took a 4-3 lead early in the final frame of regulation.

Say what you will about Tkachuk, he finds a way to get under the skin of his opponents. Even if Kassian avoids supplemental discipline, he already made a mistake.

What do you think should result from Kassian’s actions? Should Tkachuk receive supplemental discipline for his questionable hit(s)?

Also, what’s the perfect soundtrack for the slow-motion footage? No, “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” doesn’t really work here, in my opinion.

Final question: does Kassian despise Tkachuk more than Drew Doughty now? Lofty stuff.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Matthews reaches new heights; Flyers defeat Capitals

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Three Stars

1) Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets

Scheifele recorded a regulation goal and a critical shootout tally to help the Jets win their second straight game. The underrated center is second in the NHL with 25 points since December 3rd, according to Sportsnet. Midway through the second period, Scheifele wired a wrister from the right face-off circle to give the Jets a 3-2 lead. In the shootout, he scored a timely goal in the bottom half of the third round to force extra innings.

2) Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

Matthews became the first American-born skater and first Maple Leafs player to score 30 or more goals in each of his first four NHL seasons in Toronto’s 4-3 shootout loss against the Winnipeg Jets. His second goal of the game came with 14 seconds remaining to force overtime. The 22-year-old also evened the score at 1-1 early in the first period when his wrist shot sailed past Connor Hellebuyck.

3) Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers center converted a nifty shorthanded breakaway in the final minutes of the second period to help Philadelphia capture a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals. Scott Laughton forced John Carlson to turn the puck over and Hayes dashed up ice to take advantage of the opportunity. Hayes deftly moved the puck from his forehand to his backhand to beat Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.

Highlights of the Night

The overtime session between the Maple Leafs and Jets was exhilarating. John Tortorella was right when he said we should eliminate the shootout and play more three-on-three hockey. Frederik Andersen made a number of impressive saves during the extra period, including this beauty.

In addition to the overtime, the shootout didn’t disappoint with some incredibly quick releases.

Blooper of the Night

Drew Doughty tests out a new position

Stats of the Night

NHL Scores

Winnipeg Jets 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 3 (SO)

Philadelphia Flyers 3, Washington Capitals 2

Dallas Stars 2, Los Angeles Kings 1

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Our Line Starts podcast: NHL players of the decade

As 2020 approaches, the Our Line Starts podcast team has put together a list of their NHL players of the decade at each position. It’s an all-star lineup filled with names that gave us plenty of memories since 2010.

Be sure to let us know your choices in the comments.

First up, forwards:

Finally, we finish up with defenseman and goaltenders:

Our Line Starts is part of NBC Sports’ growing roster of podcasts spanning the NFL, Premier League, NASCAR, and much more. The new weekly podcast, which will publish Wednesdays, will highlight the top stories of the league, including behind-the-scenes content and interviews conducted by NBC Sports’ NHL commentators.

Where you can listen:

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1482681517

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/nbc-sports/our-line-starts

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7cDMHBg6NJkQDGe4KHu4iO?si=9BmcLtutTFmhRrNNcMqfgQ

NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports

The Buzzer: Another shutout for Jarry; Draisaitl puts Oilers back in first

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Three Stars

1. Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins. Another big win for the Penguins on Friday night, and they owe this one to Jarry as he recorded his second consecutive shutout and stole the show in Phil Kessel‘s first visit back to Pittsburgh as a visiting player since the offseason trade. Jarry has been getting the bulk of the starts over the past couple of weeks and is making a pretty convincing case to keep getting them as he improved his season save percentage to .942 with Friday’s win. He has stopped all 61 shots he has faced over the past two games and has won six of his past seven appearances.

2. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers. Thanks to the Arizona Coyotes’ 2-0 loss in Pittsburgh, the Oilers were able to jump back ahead of them for first place in the Pacific Division with their 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Draisaitl was again one of the big impact players for the Oilers by factoring into both of the team’s goals. He opened the scoring in the first period by banking a shot in off of Kings defender Drew Doughty, then set up Alex Chiasson‘s game-winning goal just a few minutes later. With his two points he takes over sole possession of the league lead in the scoring race with 53 points, moving one point ahead of his teammate — and linemate — Connor McDavid, who now has 52 points. No other player in the league has more than 44 points right now.

3. Jakub Vrana, Washington Capitals. Vrana continued his hot streak — and great season — on Friday with a pair of points, including the game-winning goal, in the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. He now has at least one point in seven of his past nine games, including three multi-point games. His goal on Friday was already his 15th of the season and has him on pace for close to 40 goals this season.

Other notable performances from Friday

  • Shea Weber was great for the Montreal Canadiens in their 2-1 win over the New York Rangers, but he also had a painful night by taking a puck right to the face. Read all about it here.
  • Alex DeBrincat scored for the second game in a row (his seventh goal of the season) as the Blackhawks were able to get a 2-1 shootout win in New Jersey. Corey Crawford was also great in net for the Blackhawks, stopping 29 out of 30 shots throughout regulation and overtime three out of five shots in a five-round shootout.
  • Mikko Koskinen stopped 35 out of 36 shots for the Oilers in their win over the Kings.

Highlights of the Night

Nate Thompson gives the Canadiens the lead with his game-winning goal against the Rangers.

When you record consecutive shutouts you probably have a lot of big saves on your individual highlight reel, and this was probably Jarry’s best of the night on Friday against the Coyotes. This helped protect what was at the time a one-goal lead.

The Blackhawks were 2-1 shootout winners in New Jersey and it was rookie Kirby Dach scoring the winning goal in the fifth round on this slick move.

Blooper of the Night

This could have been a problem for Capitals goalie Braden Holtby as he nearly put the puck in his own net.

Factoids

  • The past two days have seen almost every game across the NHL be decided by just a single goal. The only two that have been decided by more than one goal were only decided by more because of late empty net goals. [NHL PR]
  • Claude Julien moved into a tie for sixth place on the Canadiens’ all-time coaching wins list on Friday night. [NHL PR]
  • The Oilers’ power play is one of the big reasons they are in first place in the Pacific Division so far this season. [NHL PR]

Scores

Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Arizona Coyotes 0
Montreal Canadiens 2, New York Rangers 1
Chicago Blackhawks 2, New Jersey Devils 1 (SO)
Edmonton Oilers 2, Los Angeles Kings 1
Washington Capitals 3, Anaheim Ducks 2

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