So much for staying on your best behavior.
Even with the NHL's Department of Player Safety, represented by George Parros and Stephen Walkom, in the building, it didn't take long before Zack Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk dropped the gloves to settle old scores Wednesday night.
The two were shown chatting before a puck drop late in the first period, and as soon as play resumed, they went at each other again; this time, it was a more even fight.
Tkachuk started with a major swing that Kassian avoided, before Kassian placed some of his own. The Oilers forward forced the Flames forward to the ice first before they both ended up down for the count. Both players were given five-minute majors and were sent to the locker rooms early.
Zack Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk drop the gloves off the faceoff pic.twitter.com/XXnKZO7U3j— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 30, 2020
This, of course, is a developing story after Kassian first dropped the gloves against Tkachuk following two heavy hits by Tkachuk in their prior meeting on Jan. 11. In that confrontation, Tkachuk did not drop his gloves; therefore, Kassian was suspended two games for continuing "to throw punches in an attempt to inflict punishment on his opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling combatant," according to NHL Rule 46.2.
Luckily for hockey fans, and especially those in Alberta, his suspension ended just prior to Wednesday's game.
From billboards to donations, fans have been involved in a "Charitable Battle of Alberta" in response to the first scuffle, but fans are still willing to show what they're thinking. For example, some Oilers faithful wore shirts that looked like turtle shells with Tkachuk's name across the back to poke fun at Tkachuk for not fighting Kassian last time.
Battle of Alberta is back pic.twitter.com/Yil55HiBa7— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 30, 2020
Tkachuk didn't turtle this time, and while Kassian led fans to believe he would stay level-headed in this game and focus on getting two points in the standings, he also recognized that if an opportunity to hit his rival cleanly came up, he would take it.
"I knew (the NHL was) going to keep a close eye, though, with the things said and the media portraying it as something a lot bigger than it actually is," Kassian told media. "Like I said earlier, it's about the two points. That's the way we're going to stick it to them. I'm going to play my game, we're going to play a hard game (and) come out of here hopefully with two points. That's the most important part."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins engaged in a fight with Sean Monahan just prior to Kassian vs. Tkachuk.
We've got our first scrap of tonight's Battle of Alberta tilt pic.twitter.com/TFJuJbRhYT— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) January 30, 2020
As far as the game — and those two valuable points — Kassian's squad got just one as Calgary won 4-3 in a shootout. The second-place Flames now lead the third-place Oilers by two points in the Pacific Division, although Edmonton has two games in hand. The teams will face off again Saturday in Calgary.