Why play hockey when you can fight, settle old scores, create new ones and, generally, make fools of yourselves before a national TV audience on Hockey Day In Canada?

The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames tore a page Saturday straight out of Slapshot and the 1970s with a line brawl to start the game and a coach — the Canucks’ John Tortorella — trying to storm the opposition’s dressing room at the conclusion of a ludicrous opening period that saw the Canucks and Flames combine for 178 penalty minutes.

Oh yes, the Canucks actually won the game, too, 3-2 in a shootout no less as Chris Higgins netted the winner in the fifth round of the shootout. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and was just the Canucks’ second in the last 10 games (2-5-3). Yannick Weber also scored in the shootout while the Flames’ Joe Colborne beat Roberto Luongo on Calgary’s first attempt before Luongo shut the door.

Saturday’s nonsense began at the 0:02 mark as all 10 skaters paired off and began fighting after Flames coach Bob Hartley decided to start his fourth line and Tortorella countered with his.

Heavyweights Tom Sestito and Brian McGrattan dropped their gloves first, at least in the eyes of referees Dave Jackson and Kyle Rehman, and were given five for fighting and 10-minute misconducts but were allowed to stay in the game.

The remaining eight players weren’t as fortunate and all were thrown out for secondary altercations. The bouts featured Kevin Bieksa versus Ladislav Smid, Jason Garrison against Chris Butler, Dale Weise versus Blair Jones and rookie Kellan Lain with Kevin Westgarth. It was Lain’s NHL debut and it lasted just two seconds. Garrison’s fight was just the second of his career. His first came against Manny Malhotra when the latter was still with the Sharks.

The first-period idiocy continued as Zack Kassian picked up a double roughing minor and 10-minute misconduct — his fourth 10-minute misconduct in four games — while Alex Burrows, in his first game back after missing 20 with a broken jaw, also got into a roughing altercation with the Flames’ Lee Stempniak.

At the conclusion of the first, Tortorella decided to pay a visit to the Flames and appeared in the hallway outside their room. He was seen being restrained by security personnel and members of the Calgary team. He was not ejected from the game but may face some discipline from the league.

Meanwhile, on the ice, the Canucks twice came back from one-goal deficits as Ryan Kesler, in the second period, and Weber, on a third-period power play, offset Flames tallies by Mark Giordano and Matt Stajan.

Canuck captain Henrik Sedin, who was nursing a suspected rib injury, played to keep his iron man streak alive at 679 consecutive games but didn’t appear for the third period, an obvious indication that he either aggravated the injury, or shouldn’t have played in the first place. His final stat line read 12:11 minutes played, two shots on goal and zero faceoffs taken. Henrik has also been playing with a sore left pinky finger.

Luongo made his first start in two weeks after recovering from an ankle injury. He made 31 saves before the shootout. Karri Ramo also stopped 31 shots for the Flames.