By Jack Ryan
Once again, Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas is in NHL hot water.
He and Flames left winger Matthew Tkachuk each are facing possible suspensions.
Gudas was given a game misconduct for slashing Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault on the neck on Thursday night and Tkachuk triggered a mini-brawl in Detroit on Wednesday night by tapping Luke Witkowski on the back of the leg as he was being escorted off the ice by officials.
The Flyers (8-8-3) and Calgary (10-8-0) are both coming off tough road losses as they meet today at the Wells..
The Flyers surrendered a one-goal lead in the final minute of regulation in their 3-2 shootout loss in Winnipeg on Thursday night. They were forced to play most of the game with five defensemen because of Gudas’ first-period game misconduct.
The Flyers could turn to veteran Andrew MacDonald, who missed the last 11 games with a knee injury after blocking a shot against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 21.
“Mac’s one of our top guys back there and he played that (physical style) before he went out with injury,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol told the South Jersey Courier-Post. “First things first, we’ve got to get him healthy and ready to go.”
Philly’s loss to the Jets was its third straight and eighth defeat in 11 games (3-5-3).
“We’re up 2-1 with less than a minute left,” Flyers right winger Jakub Voracek said. “We have to find a way to close it.”
The Orange and Black welcomed rookie center Nolan Patrick back to the lineup on Thursday after he missed nine games with a concussion. Patrick logged just under 8 minutes and lost 10 of 11 faceoffs in his return against Winnipeg.
The Flames were thumped 8-2 in Detroit on Wednesday, the start of a six-game road trip that takes them to Philadelphia, Washington, Columbus, Dallas and Colorado.
Tkachuk ignited two fights when he wacked Witkowski in the back of the leg as Witkowski was walking down the tunnel and barking at the Calgary bench.
Tkachuk, 19, is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the NHL’s most irritating players. He was suspended two games last season for an elbow to the head of Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.
“(Witkowski was) just an absolute wrecking ball, trying to start stuff in the third and starting a complete circus with however many minutes left,” Tkachuk told the Calgary Sun. “I just went over there just to give him a little poke just to get out of here. He was looking for an excuse to come back. … It’s just stupid.”
The Flames should have goaltender Mike Smith back between the pipes after the 35-year-old veteran sat out Wednesday’s game in Detroit with an upper body injury. Smith is 9-6-0 with a 2.63 GAA and .921 save percentage in 16 appearances this season.
Calgary’s top-line left winger Johnny Gaudreau, who grew up a Flyers fan in nearby Salem, N.J., is riding an eight-game point streak and leads the Flames with 26 points in 18 games.