VANCOUVER, BC -- The series has spice.
Turns out there’s no love lost between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames.
Matt Stajan, Michael Ferland and Brandon Bollig, alongside Deryk Engelland on one side. Shawn Matthias, Derek Dorsett, Brad Richardson, with Dan Hamhuis on the other, in the late stages of a 4-1 Canucks win in Game 2 in the Western Conference First Round set.
Six fighting majors. Seven game misconducts. Three 10-minute misconducts.
And a whole lot of bad blood.
“Scrum at the net. Tempers are high in the playoffs. Stuff happen,” Bollig said. “It was the end of the game, an emotional game. Obviously we weren’t happy with the score at the time. We got involved and there was a scrum and it escalated.
“You have to send a message somehow. We play a tough game. We’re a hard-working team. Us guys that are out there know how to handle ourselves. We got in a scrum. Things escalated. None of our guys are going to back down so that’s what happened.
“You’ve got to send a message somehow. We didn’t have it tonight. They wanted it more than us. They got the win. At the end there tempos ran high and things happened and we handled it.”
Richardson and Stajan were the first two to go at it, following what the Calgary centre called “a little eye gouge.” It continued with Ferland and Matthias. It escalated with Engelland and Dorsett, twice, and a hint of Hamhuis.
It ended with a host of penalties that couldn’t be sorted out in time for the final buzzer.
“Guys get on edge. It was a little scrum,” Stajan said.
“It is what it is. End of a shift. I don’t think any of us are going to back down. Neither team is. We play scrappy. We’ve got to battle back. That wasn’t good enough from our team. We stick together here and we regroup altogether and use our crowd next game and try to get a win.”
With the win, Vancouver avoided the dubious distinction of setting an NHL record for eight consecutive losses on home ice in the playoffs. The Canucks had also lost 11 of their past 12 playoff games overall heading into Game 2, including the last two of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, a five-game loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2012, and a four-game sweep against the San Jose Sharks in 2013.
But first period goals from Daniel Sedin, just 2:56 into the game, and Chris Higgins at 7:06 had Vancouver up 2-0 and before Calgary’s second shot of the game put Vancouver on the path to snap those slumps.
The score held until the third period, when Ronalds Kenins one-timed his first of the series and first career playoff goal over the blocker of Jonas Hiller at 2:17 to extend the lead to three.
Kris Russell, who scored the game-winner in Game 1, broke Eddie Lack’s shutout bid with 3:34 remaining to pull Calgary within two with a shot from the point that beat the Canucks goaltender to the glove, but an empty net goal from Radim Vrbata with 2:01 remaining clinched the win and the series split through two games.
The best-of-7 series resumes Sunday in Calgary (8 p.m. MT, CBC, SN960) with flared tempers.
“Guys know that we have each other’s backs,” Bollig said. “We’re a team. It’s been our MO all year. We stick together and we stand up for each other. We’ve had plenty of fights this year in response to a big hit or something like that. We’ve never strayed far from that team mentality and the end was just a result of sticking up for each other.”