'That was fun': Red Wings cap rout of Flames with brawl

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
The two teams duke it out during a third-period fight near the benches.

Detroit — This was pretty much a straightforward rout, the Red Wings taking advantage of a bad Wednesday night for the Calgary Flames, and then, well, this is hockey.

One incident ignites another, the entire situation gets lit, and suddenly you have fists flying.

Quite a few, in this situation.

One disagreement led to another, and the main topic of discussion after the Red Wings’ 8-2 victory over Calgary was the brawl between the teams’ benches which woke up Little Caesars Arena, which had been snoozing during the third period.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 8, Flames 2

“OTH — old-time hockey,” said Luke Witkowski, one of the central figures in the physicality.

That, it was.

It basically started with Luke Witkowski and Calgary’s Brett Kulak fighting, things apparently ending, even with Witkowski barking at Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic, as they both had all game, after Witkowski had finished with Kulak.

As Witkowski headed to the locker room, though, he was speared in the back of the legs by Matthew Tkachuk.

That ignited matters, with Witkowski coming back to challenge Tkachuk, even after being sent to the Red Wings’ locker room.

“Somebody speared me in the back of the legs,” said Witkowski, who could face as much as a 10-game suspension for returning to the ice after being ordered to the dressing room by officials. “I wasn’t really thinking about it too much. I felt somebody (spear) me in the back of the legs.

“Emotions were running high.”

That, they were.

As Witkowski went after Tkachuk, Anthony Mantha completed his Gordie Howe Hat Trick by engaging with Hamonic in a fight.

In fact, Mantha got Hamonic down on his back in the Red Wings’ bench and landed several punches on Hamonic in the area near the tunnel leading to the Red Wings’ bench.

“He (Hamonic) was throwing punches and I still had my two gloves on,” Mantha said. “I just tried to push him to the bench to be able to drop one glove.

“The door (to the bench) was open and we fell right in.”

Mantha was aware he was nearing the Gordie Howe Hat Trick — goal, assist, fight — and was teasing Andreas Athanasiou — who still doesn’t have one — about it as the third period approached.

“I told Dubs (Athanasiou) I have a dance partner already, do you?” Mantha said. “(Then) Witter (Witkowski) took care of my dance partner and I had to take another one.”

Even goaltender Jimmy Howard entered into the fracas, and almost appeared to escalate into a possible fight with Flames backup goalie Jon Gillies.

“I don’t know how it flared up,” Howard said. “I was sort of on the other end of the bench and felt like we were outnumbered, so I felt like I’m getting in there for the boys.

“That’s just the emotions of the game running high. One of those things. The score got a little bit out of hand … tempers running high.

“That was fun. A little bit of everything for the fans.”

Howard earned a slashing penalty early in the third period, after Tkachuk tried to shove Nick Jensen into him.

“I took exception to that,” Howard said. “I missed three months last season because of guys falling on me and I’m not going to have any of that.”

The Red Wings have proven to be a close team already this season, but this was another example of everyone sticking up for each other, and possibly drawing the team that much closer.

“You go through different things during the season, you bond, and when you stick up for each other, stick up for yourselves, it creates a good mentality within your team,” Blashill said. “It’s a group that really likes playing for each other and that’s a positive.”

Blashill was seen exchanging words with Calgary assistant coach Dave Cameron during the fight.

“No comment on that, at all,” Blashill said.

Oh yes, the actual hockey game.

The young players the Red Wings are hoping will take center stage in the near future certainly gave a glimpse of their potential in this victory.

Mantha had two power-play goals and an assist, Athanasiou had two goals and an assist, and Dylan Larkin had a shorthanded goal and two assists — nine points combined for the three — as the Red Wings rolled.

“It’s huge,” Mantha said of the ability of the young players to contribute to that level. “It’s fun to play in (a game like that).”

Said Blashill: “They’re playing fairly complete games, and that doesn’t just translate to points but (also) winning.”

Red Wings schedule

The Red Wings (9-8-2) ended a two-game losing streak, while earning points for the second consecutive game on this homestand.

The only potential negative to the evening from the Red Wings’ perspective was an upper-body injury that kept defenseman Trevor Daley out of the third period.

Blashill said Daley is day-to-day, but isn’t sure if Daley will be available Friday against Buffalo.