Kuemper, Tkachuk spar in Coyotes-Flames brawl

NHL

Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper slammed an opponent to the ice after Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau cross-checked Arizona’s Jason Demers while Demers was down on the ice, setting off a brawl that resulted in a combined 14 penalty minutes during Arizona’s 3-0 win over the Flames on Saturday.

Kuemper put the Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk in a headlock and flipped him off his feet following the cross-check by Gaudreau. Tkachuk then came up swinging and landed a few blows on Kuemper in a dustup that also included Calgary goaltender David Rittich barreling in from the other side of the rink.

“It happens. A little bit of fun, but then we got back to work,” Kuemper said. “That’s a big part of our success, is how tight we are as a group. We want to have each other’s back out there.”

The crowd chanted Kuemper’s name as he returned to the net. The 14 combined penalty minutes for three Flames and two Coyotes included Vinnie Hinostroza serving Kuemper’s four-minute roughing penalty, and Rasmus Andersson sitting for two minutes on Rittich’s behalf.

“It’s nice having my security guard back there, Darcy,” Demers said. “We’ve been building towards something the last couple of years, and this season feels different for us.”

Demers said he thought the Flames felt he went down too easy on a hit that preceded the fracas.

“Just trying to give it to him a bit, we didn’t like that too much,” Tkachuk said. “Whenever something happens when Johnny’s involved, you’ve got to stick up for him.”

Kuemper, who played in his 200th career NHL game Saturday, stopped 35 shots in posting his second shutout of the season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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