It was the perfect resolution.
Late in the first period of the most anticipated game of the NHL season, Matthew Tkachuk gave Zack Kassian, the fans, and the hockey establishment exactly what it wanted.
The winner: hockey.
Less than a minute after lightweights Sean Monahan and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins provided a shocking undercard to get the joint jumping, Tkachuk and Kassian dropped the gloves after a brief discussion before the draw.
In less time than it takes to ride a bull, the two wrapped up a spirited exchange that saw Tkachuk off balance after missing with an opening right. Five furious lefts from Kassian failed to do any damage, ending the tilt with a respectful nod of approval from the big Oiler.
Turtle no more.
“It had nothing to do with the hits, or anything like that — I just didn’t like getting pummeled at home like I did,” said Tkachuk, referring to the Jan. 11 beating he received from Kassian, without a response. “A lot of people didn’t want me to do it, but I wanted to.
“It was just kind of a way for me to stick up for myself, it wasn’t about owing anybody, or anything. I was doing it for myself.”