The fireworks many tuned in to see on Hockey Night in Canada between the two sparring partners came in the final 10 minutes of a game in which the listless Flames were down 4-0.
As Tkachuk skated down the left wing approaching Doughty, he essentially let go of the puck with an eye on engaging with the man he’s hated for years.
Alas, just before the point of contact Doughty went low, upending Tkachuk in spectacular fashion, sparking a dog pile most defensive line coaches would be proud of.
“It was the first time we had a one-on-one all night, so I just kind of let the puck go and was going to go engage with him and he went low on me,” said Tkachuk, whose only other exchange with Doughty was a first period conversation off a faceoff.
“Those are the moments you kind of black out and just try to get some punches in, I guess.”
Tkachuk immediately dragged down Doughty and crosschecked him in the back twice before Austin Wagner jumped the Flames forward. Seconds later, Mark Giordano flew in with an impressive tackle on Kyle Clifford that had the majority of players rolling around on the ice at one point.
The crowd ate it up, as did Doughty, who emerged from the pile with a cut on his left cheek that betrayed the massive gap-toothed grin on his face.
Chalk up the win for Doughty and the Kings on the scoreboard and in the alley.
“(We) both really didn’t do too much until that point in the game to be honest, so for there to be a little passion there is good,” said a solemn Tkachuk in a quiet dressing room of a Flames club now 1-4 on the road following a 4-1 loss at Staples Center.
“I think the game lacked passion from the start. That’s something I blame myself on. One of the intangibles I bring is passion from the start and it was lacking from my part.
“We’ve just got to play better from the start. We’ve had some tough starts this year. We’ve given up the first goal a lot and we’ve been playing from behind a lot, especially on the road. I’ve got to get engaged quicker.”
Strange, as this rivalry has generally energized Tkachuk for the bulk of their 10-round war.
The most engaged Flame on the night was David Rittich, who was solid despite allowing four goals on 28 shots, taking two penalties and showing plenty of frustration by shoving and later slashing an opponent.
Coach Bill Peters confirmed the no-brainer decision to put Cam Talbot in for the third period was all about getting the backup a feel for the game before Sunday’s start in Anaheim.
The demotion of Sean Monahan to a trio that included Austin Czarnik and Milan Lucic was more of a message-sender for sure.
“Not a lot of puck play in the middle,” said Peters whose club was outshot 36-23 in a game that was clearly the low point of the season thus far.
“I didn’t see many guys making plays down low or making too many plays. But that’s across the board. We weren’t invested in the game and we got what we deserved.”
Tyler Toffoli got the cakewalk going early with a goal 75 seconds in, eclipsed in efficiency only by Jeff Carter’s strike 16 seconds into the second as part of a route that saw Anze Kopitar add a short-handed goal and Ilya Kovalchuk add a power-play marker before the game’s midway point.
The Flames showed no signs of life until the Tkachuk/Doughty clash that came far too late in the night for anyone in Canada to suggest it was worth tuning in for.
“It lacked emotion on our side for sure,” said Peters, whose club played shorthanded much of the night, giving up seven power plays.
“It felt like we were killing penalties like eight times and giving them lots of opportunities.”
Mikael Backlund, who had been elevated to the top line for the final period, broke Jonathan Quick’s shutout with a successful penalty shot with two minutes remaining. Hauled down by Doughty while in alone, Backlund deked and outwaited Quick before popping it top shelf.
As he skated by the Kings bench he exchanged plenty of words with a less than impressed Kings club.
Words were really all the 4-4-1 Flames had to offer on this night.