Edmonton Oilers’ Zack Kassian calls out Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk after wild beatdown
Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian didn’t mince his words about opponent Matthew Tkachuk after Edmonton’s 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
“We lost the game, it sucks, but all in all he’s just a young punk who has to figure that aspect out,” Kassian said (via the Athletic). “He’s a pretty good player, but he’s a p—. He’s the definition of it. He wouldn’t fight me two years ago, said I was a fourth-liner. Now I have 13 goals. What’s the excuse now?”
The two feisty forwards came together for a pair of large-scale collisions throughout Saturday’s game that Kassian felt were predatory. The first hit laid Kassian out from his blind side as he skated around Calgary’s net with his head down. The second came behind the net with Kassian’s back to the rest of the play. Once Kassian realized Tkachuk was responsible for the second hit, too, he lost his cool and went after the agitator with the gloves off.
The end result of both plays? Three penalties, all handed out to Kassian for his beatdown: He ultimately served a double-minor penalty for roughing Tkachuk and a 10-minute misconduct as a result. Tkachuk, who made no attempt to engage Kassian in a fight, got off without a penalty. The Flames used that momentum from Kassian’s penalty to take the lead and ultimately win the game.
Kassian told reporters after the game that he did not regret his actions, even though they may have cost his team the game. He called Tkachuk’s hits “Raffi Torres-style”, referring to the player who received the longest suspension in league history during the 2015-16 season.
“If you’re going to throw hits like that, you’ve got to answer the bell once in a while,” Kassian said via the Athletic. I’m not the first guy to say that.”
Tkachuk, for his part, stayed in character as the agitator that has made him so successful — and controversial — in the NHL.
“If he doesn’t want to get hit, then stay off the tracks,” Tkachuk told reporters. “(I) caught him three times there, so you think he’d learn after the first one, but if he wants to react like that, we’ll take the PP, we’ll take the game-winner and we’ll move on to first place.”
The Battle of Alberta rivals meet again for a home-and-home series on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1 that the league’s player safety department may take note of. Kassian implied he might take further retribution the next time he and Tkachuk are on the ice.
“It’s going to be one of those games where I know he’s not going to fight,” he said. “But maybe it’s my turn to deliver something, to follow him around a little and wait until he gets in a bad situation. Simple.”
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