VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Canucks knew what was coming as soon as coach John Tortorella read out the starting lineups.
Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley was sending out his fourth line and Tortorella was going to do likewise.
Two seconds into Saturday night’s game, five fights broke out at the same time.
Chris Higgins scored in the fifth round of the shootout on a night that featured a nasty line brawl off the opening faceoff and the Canucks defeated the Flames 3-2.
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“Torts came in and told us that they’re starting those idiots over there so we’re going to match that and go with it,” Canucks tough guy Tom Sestito said. “I knew right off the hop (Brian) McGrattan was going to come after me.”
Tortorella made no apologies for matching the Flames’ muscle with his own.
“I see the starting lineup and I know the other guy across the bench and it’s easy for people to say ‘Well, put the Sedins out there and it’s deflated.’ I can’t put our players at risk like that,” he said. “With the lineup that (Hartley) had, I am not going to put those types of players at risk, and that’s what ensues. I’m not proud of it.
“ I’ve apologized to every one of the players involved in it. I don’t feel great about it at all.”
Canucks forwards Dale Weise and Kellan Lain — who was making his NHL debut — along with defensemen Kevin Bieksa and Jason Garrison were given fighting majors and game misconducts.
The same went for Calgary forwards Kevin Westgarth and Blair Jones, as well as defensemen Ladislav Smid and Chris Butler.
“It shouldn’t be in the game, that stuff,” Tortorella said. “I don’t want it in the game, but I have to protect my team, too.”
Sestito and McGrattan also got fighting majors, plus 10-minute misconducts, with the latter suffering a cut.
Tortorella screamed at Hartley from the bench and also tried to get into the Calgary locker room after the first period.
The Vancouver Sun reported Tortorella has a hearing scheduled for Monday to discuss his behavior with league officials. The paper said a suspension and/or fine for Tortorella is likely.