MONTREAL — It seemed as if he was everywhere. Whether it was in the offensive zone creating chances or in the defensive zone preventing them, defenseman P.K. Subban was a constant presence in the Canadiens’ 4-2 victory in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series with the Bruins Tuesday night.
He was physical, he was aggressive in all three zones, and he was the biggest thorn in Boston’s side. In the end, Subban extended his point streak to six games with a goal and an assist. According to Elias, Subban became the third Habs blue liner with three straight multiple-point playoff games, joining J.C. Tremblay (1971) and Larry Robinson (1987, 1978).
Montreal leads the second-round series, 2-1, with Game 4 Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
After the Canadiens took a 1-0 lead at 10:57 of the first period on a Tomas Plekanec goal on which Subban assisted, Subban lined up Reilly Smith for a big hit and not only took out Smith, teammate Thomas Vanek at the same time. Subban went to the box for roughing and made no secret of his displeasure for the call.
After stewing for two minutes, Subban came flying out of the box, caught a perfect pass from center Lars Eller, and beat goalie Tuukka Rask on a breakaway for the 2-0 advantage just six seconds after his penalty expired.
“I was pretty mad about the call at first and then I watched the replay and my arm did get up on him,’’ said Subban. “I try to come across as a D man sometimes and step up and I usually do a good job of not putting the forward in a difficult position. I’m not a dirty player, I don’t try to elbow guys. But you could see my arm did get up and it was a good call. The ref spoke to me after about it and I told him I saw the replay on the board and it was a penalty.’’
He wasn’t aware that Vanek was a casualty on the play until some time after.
“I spoke to him after when I went in and he said, ‘I’m fine, don’t worry about it,’ ’’ said Subban. “I was pretty happy to see him back out there skating and playing. Obviously, I don’t want to hurt my own teammates when I’m throwing a body check but sometimes that happens.’’
Then there was the matter of the payoff in the form of a goal.
“[Eller] made a good play and found me cutting through the neutral zone and I just went in on Tuukka,’’ said Subban. “To be honest with you, I was pretty surprised and a little bit nervous. He’s a really good goalie and I just tried to bury my head and make a move and the puck went in for me.’’
Subban said as much as he’s been the subject of attention throughout this series, the Canadiens are playing as a team and everything starts with coach Michel Therrien and his staff.
“We’re doing it together, it’s not one or two guys, it’s everybody,’’ said Subban. “It starts with [goalie Carey Price] and from our defense to our forwards. When we’ve had adversity, we’re sticking together and doing the right things. As a player, it’s fun to play on teams where you know people are going to support you whether you make a mistake or not.’’
As well as Subban has performed, he said it actually has nothing to do with the Bruins. He said it’s a standard to which he holds himself — trying to help his team and do his best every time out on the ice.
“I don’t try to step up my game against different teams,’’ said Subban. “I try to play as well as I can every game no matter who I’m playing. They’re a really good team and I’ve gotten opportunities and my teammates are finding me in the right place and guys are getting in front of the net making it tough [on the Bruins] and making good plays. It’s easy to say you get a breakaway out of the penalty box but [Eller] made such a great pass. It’s a group effort.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.