‘I was eating some punches’: Chicago Blackhawks say fight with Anaheim Ducks showed they have their teammates’ backs

They say in boxing that styles make fights, but in hockey, sometimes fights can make a team.

The Chicago Blackhawks have been buzzing this week about their 7-2 romp over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

But they’ve also been gratified how teammates came to each other’s defense during a third-period melee — particularly Hawks goalie Petr Mrázek, who threw himself between teammate MacKenzie Entwistle and Ducks defenseman Radko Gudas when Gudas had Entwistle at his mercy.

“Mrázek kind of grabbed him and saved me until I could get my gloves off,” Entwistle said.

Some of the Hawks said the tension boiled over with the Hawks up by a significant margin — not a position they’ve found themselves in often.

“It’s always frustration, right? Mrázek said. “We were up 6-2 at that point, so the other team was frustrated, that’s for sure.”

Said Jarred Tinordi about the Ducks starting the fight: “Bait us? They can’t really bait us into much. The score was kind of out hand at that point. We were just sticking up for each other, playing hard. I think they were a little bit frustrated with how their game was going.

“Once a score gets out of hand and time’s running down, you can expect some frustrations from the other team, a little bit of pushback and some fire. I think we were ready for it.”

Admitted Ducks right wing Brett Leason, “Yeah, just a little bit of frustration.”

Here’s how several of the Hawks and Ducks recalled the fight that amounted to nothing but meant everything.

Jarred Tinordi versus Mason McTavish

McTavish was trailing the Hawks defending behind Mrázek’s net and gave Tinordi a shove. Tinordi jawed at McTavish and a fight ensued.

Tinordi: “I was coming around the net and he kind of gave me a shot in the back right into the net. And I just turned around, kind of confronted him about it and things escalated from there.”

Mrázek: “That was the first (fight) and then Killer (Alex Killorn) jumped in and then all of a sudden everything started.

Entwistle: “I just saw Tinner and I think it was McTavish going at it behind the net, and then everyone came in.”

Ducks coach Greg Cronin: “I didn’t see it. I just saw McTavish and Tinordi wrestling and I didn’t really see much after that.”

Tinordi on his bloody face after the scrum: “A stick came over with a pile and kind of nicked me right over the eye, and I got lucky it wasn’t my eyeball, actually.”

MacKenzie Entwistle versus Radko Gudas

Hawks forward Entwistle found himself in a wrestling match with Gudas, and Gudas took him down. Entwistle struggled to regain his feet, and Gudas punched him a couple of times before Mrázek stepped in.

Entwistle: “I was one of the last guys in the pile and then you just try to grab someone when that happens, and it just happened to be Gudas.

Mrázek: “I know Twisty was in trouble there a little bit, and I just tried to get between them because I know Gudas really well. I knew if someone’s going to be there, he’s not going to do any more damage to it. So that was it. … I think the No. 1 thing is you’ve got to help your teammates no matter what it costs.

Entwistle: “I think I owe Mrázek some lunch or something, but I think he saved me. I didn’t even have my gloves off and I was eating some punches.”

Petr Mrázek versus John Gibson

Gibson, the Ducks goaltender, casually skated from his net to the Hawks’ net — like a stroll in the park.

“Here comes Gibson. Let’s see what we got here!” said TV analyst Darren Pang, a former Hawks goaltender, during the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast.

Gibson tried to start a fight with fellow goalie Mrázek, and there was some jersey tugging, but referees intervened before they could really trade blows.

Both were issued misconduct penalties, but it appeared Gibson was ejected while Mrázek wasn’t (see Cronin’s explanation below). Lukas Dostal took over the Ducks’ net for the final 11 minutes.

Mrázek: “I’m not a boxer or anything. I’m staying out of trouble if I can. But those are the moments in a game when you just jump in, you don’t even think twice.”

Entwistle: “I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a game where I had a goalie fight. I don’t even think in junior. … I think it’d be kind of fun. As a goalie, like, you’re sitting back there … you don’t get too much action like that. So I could see why some goalies are like, ‘Yeah, let’s try it tonight. Let’s get in the mix a little bit.’ ”

Cronin on Gibson’s “ejection”: “Somebody told me that he was out of the game, but he wasn’t. He was out getting undressed. They came and they said Gibby’s not thrown out. I said, ‘Well, somebody told him he was.’ I asked what happened? How’d he get the message he was thrown out of the game?

“He was given a two (minute penalty) and a 10, but he could’ve stayed in the net. That’s what the referee told me.”

Reese Johnson versus Pavel Mintyukov

Johnson — a Hawks “designated hitter,” so to speak — and Mintyukov ripped each other’s helmets off, tugged each other’s jerseys and began hammering each other. Referees were so busy breaking up the free-for-all that they didn’t notice Mintyukov take Johnson down to the ice.

Tinordi: “I didn’t see any of them (other fights). Once Raz and Gibson got in there, I was near that pile. To be honest, I didn’t see Reese or Entwistle really going at it (with their respective opponents) until kind of at the end.”

Coach Luke Richardson after the game: “Yeah, he got socked in the nose there. I didn’t really see it — there was so much going on, I didn’t have a clear view of it — but I just saw him coming off. He had a bloody nose and watery eyes, usually that’s when you get popped with one.”

The Hawks on Friday ruled Johnson out indefinitely with a concussion suffered in the fight. He missed Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center.

What have we learned?

It’s a lesson in hockey fight etiquette. It’s not just fists wailing on faces; you have to know the rules of engagement — what’s fair game?

Some Hawks said Gudas — who has a checkered reputation — fought cleanly despite the fact Entwistle hadn’t shed his gloves yet. If there is a quibble, it’s that once Entwistle went down and was vulnerable, Gudas should have let up.

“When you’re in scrums like that everyone’s wires are crossing,” Entwistle said. “It wasn’t like a fight where you’re sitting there and you’re squaring up with a guy and you’re like, ‘Oh, hey, let’s go.’ … Everyone’s kind of grabbing each other, you got a guy on one shoulder, you got another (guy) on the other. Like, it’s hockey. I’m not going to sit here and say that he jumped me. I was grabbing him as well, you know?

“We’ve got him again coming up (Thursday in Anaheim, Calif.), so it should be a fun game.”

Even with fighting, you have to be smart about it, Tinordi said.

“If I try to put myself in Gudas’ shoes,” he said. “You see a guy fall or maybe (doesn’t have his gloves off), wait, give him a chance to get his gloves off and then start firing away. It’s tough, it wasn’t like a square-up fight, it was a scrum. Knowing that, you’ve got to go into it ready for anything.

“I was always taught if there’s a scrum, get your gloves off as soon as possible even if you don’t fight anybody, just so you’re ready. That’s kind of an old-school mentality. … Even if you just lose one glove out, that way you can get a grab on somebody and not slip or get messed up, because you want to protect yourself, right? You don’t know what somebody’s going to do.”

The fight itself is inconsequential to the final score, but it’s one of the moments in a season in which teammates can demonstrate support.

“It was kind of a lot of blood and stuff, but it’s good too,” center Philipp Kurashev said. “The guys stepped up for each other. That’s what makes it a fun game.

Said Mrázek: “You can see that we’re a group that’s tied together all year long, and we fight for each other.”

Added Tinordi: “We’ve only got 16 games left, so you expect that kind of stuff now. And it’s good for the group. … It’s been a struggle this year getting some wins, but we knew that all the guys were kind of playing for each other and playing hard and we had each other’s backs out there. … If one guy is getting in some trouble, we expect whoever’s on the ice to step up and get in there and help.”