Montreal Canadiens defenceman Mike Matheson had to take responsibility for his hit on Eric Staal earlier in the game by dropping the gloves against Matthew Tkachuk.
Matheson is mostly known as a smooth-skating defenceman that has the ability to play a physical game from time to time, but he’s rarely been a fighter in his career; a role usually reserved for Arber Xhekaj.
That being said, due to an earlier on Eric Staal, the Panthers were looking to get their revenge on the Montreal Canadiens defenceman for most of the game.
Every shift where Matheson touched the ice, he was met with a couple of Panthers who would swarm him and take the extra strides to complete hits against him.
Finally, in the third period, Matheson had had enough of the Panthers’ constant invitations to fight and ultimately dropped the gloves against Matthew Tkachuk.
Tkachuk avenges Staal 🥊 pic.twitter.com/IGo1tJtrxL
— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) January 20, 2023
Mike Matheson was the target of the Florida Panthers the entire night after a questionable hit, that went unpunished by the referrees, on Eric Staal.
The two players were chasing a puck in the Montreal Canadiens’ zone, and Matheson hit the breaks and pushed his shoulders upwards, catching Staal in the head.
The hit saw Staal lay on the ice for a few moments, before getting back up and falling down again; which prompted an immediate visit to the NHL’s quiet room.
The Panthers announced at the start of the second period that Staal wouldn’t return, which made Matheson persona non-grata on the ice; facing the shots and slashes of the Panthers on every shift.
Ultimately, it was likely a play that should have been called by the referees, but, the non-call created a very heated environment that led to a flurry of fights after the initial one between Matheson and Tkachuk.
No call after this Mike Matheson reverse hit on Eric Staal (who had to leave the game).
Clean or dirty? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/PODTWduVPZ
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) January 20, 2023