CALGARY - The Calgary Flames won games this season because they were fast and fit. They're now playing meaner given the ornery turn in their playoff series with the Vancouver Canucks.
The Flames return to Calgary for Game 3 of their Western Conference quarter-final series having earned a 1-1 split of the first two games in Vancouver.
Sunday's playoff game will be the first at Scotiabank Saddledome since April 27, 2009, when Calgary lost a first-round Game 6 to the Chicago Blackhawks.
A line brawl with 77 seconds left in Calgary's 4-1 loss to the Canucks on Friday produced 132 penalty minutes. The Flames were assessed a total of 95 in the game after averaging just 7.6 in the regular season.
"I never thought I'd have to fight two guys at once," said Flames defenceman Deryk Engelland, who went down in a tangle with Canucks forward Derek Dorsett and defenceman Dan Hamhuis during the melee.
The National Hockey League fined Flames head coach Bob Hartley $50,000 on Saturday essentially for stirring the pot. Hartley put his bruisers out on the ice prior to the big scrap.
Hartley spoke to reporters prior to the announcement of the fine. He was also fined $25,000 after a line brawl off the opening faceoff in Vancouver on Jan. 18, 2014.
The good news for Calgary was the league also rescinded an instigator penalty to Engelland and thus no suspension was given.
Hits were almost even in Calgary's 2-1 win to open the series, but Vancouver recorded 30 to Calgary's 19 in Game 2. The Flames are the lightest team on average of the NHL playoff teams at 195.2 pounds.
Engelland and left-wingers Brandon Bollig and Michael Ferland — all six foot two and over 210 pounds — are playing more prominent roles because they're Calgary's muscle. Ferland totalled 10 hits in the first two playoff games of his career.
"Obviously we'll have to step up and play a bigger role and I think any of us are willing to do that and are excited for that challenge," Bollig said. "We have the team to handle ourselves physically, if that's the way the games are going to go."
The yellow and purple bruise above Bollig's left eye was courtesy of a second-period pile-up with goaltender Eddie Lack in Vancouver's net. As Bollig emerged from the net, Lack punched the Flames forward in the backside with his blocker.
"I think I got kicked in the eye actually when I was on the ground," Bollig said.
Hartley intends to start Jonas Hiller in goal again despite pulling him for Karri Ramo with five minutes remaining Friday. Hiller stopped 26 of 29 shots, while Ramo turned away the two he faced.
"With Ramo's injury in Edmonton, he hadn't played in a few days and with the score three-zip, I felt like just giving him a feel," Hartley said.
Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa poured extra gasoline on Game 3 with this quote after Friday night's win:
“That ‘Ferklund’ or whatever his name is was running around trying to get something going. It’s not the first time we have seen that in playoffs," Bieksa told reporters. "We have played against Ben Eager and some other dumb-dumbs like that before."
The Canucks held Calgary's top line of Jiri Hudler, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau scoreless and to a combined eight shots in the first two games of the series.
The Flames have instituted the customary post-season blackout on discussing injuries, but Monahan is not himself.
The 31-goal scorer practised one day for about 10 minutes in the five days prior to Wednesday's Game 1. Monahan had no shots on net Friday and won just three of a dozen faceoffs Wednesday.
"We're not frustrated," Monahan insisted. "We know we've got more and we know we've got to produce. It's not something that's worrying us right now and we know we can get the job done here."
Left-winger Mason Raymond, one of five Flames with more than 20 games of playoff experience, was a healthy scratch in Vancouver. Raymond scored one goal in his last 24 games of the regular season.
Hartley instead has gone with 18-year-old winger Sam Bennett, whose enthusiasm and scrappiness injected some junk-yard dog into Calgary's game.
Bennett played just three shifts after bouncing hard off Canucks defenceman Alex Edler in the second period Friday.
"Maybe knocked the wind out of me a little bit," Bennett allowed. "I'm fine. That won't be a problem. I'm trying to bring as much energy as possible to the game and finish my checks."