In a battle of disappointing seasons, the Winnipeg Jets–Buffalo Sabres game got heated in the third period after Jake McCabe levelled Patrik Laine with a clean, open-ice hit that forced the Winnipeg rookie from the game.
Laine was down on the ice for a few minutes and needed to be helped off.
As is usually the case after a big hit — even if it’s clean — the Jets responded by swarming McCabe and piling on him in a fist-flying scrum. The end result was a two-minute minor for Mark Scheifele.
That was certainly a moment of tension in the game, but things got a little more desperate after the final seconds had ticked off the clock.
After first tossing a few blows on Bryan Little, Lehner became engaged with 6-foot-5, 260-pound Dustin Byfuglien. The Jets defenceman went after Lehner with another Sabres player draped on his back, a net between the two, and a linesman trying to break it all up.
Byfuglien actually reached over the net to try and connect with Lehner.
After the game, Lehner suggested it was too bad he and Byfuglien didn’t come to full blows.
“You’ve got to stick up for each other,” he said. “It’s too bad the ref came in between.”
Now, Lehner is no pipsqueak at 6-foot-4, 239 pounds, but we have to think any one-on-one fight with Byfuglien would have ended poorly for the goalie. If anything, the bulky equipment he wears would have given the Jets defenceman an edge.
Then again, Lehner has one of the worst on-ice tempers in the league.