As much as he was a force with which to be reckoned earlier in the series, Saturday was not Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban’s night.
Even though he scored a late power-play goal, Bruins forward Brad Marchand was a thorn in Subban’s side throughout, Milan Lucic flexed his bicep in Subban’s direction, and Subban was squirted in the visor with water not once but twice by Shawn Thornton from the Bruins bench in the waning moments of the contest. And worst of all, the Canadiens lost Game 5, 4-2, at TD Garden and are on the brink of playoff elimination.
Subban wasn’t pointing fingers at the offending Bruin, saying he wasn’t going to provide Boston any bulletin material. But video clearly showed it was Thornton, who was giggling on the bench like a prankster.
The NHL reviewed the incident and Thornton is looking at a likely fine of $2,000 to $2,500, but no suspension. Thornton was not available for comment after the game.
“It’s one of those irritating things when you’re down, 4-2,’’ said Subban. “Listen, they beat us, that’s not the reason why we lost. It’s just one of those things that frustrates you toward the end of the game. I don’t want to take anything away from their team. They played well today, they executed.’’
Subban said he didn’t know who sprayed him and said he really didn’t care.
“It probably doesn’t need to be a topic of conversation, we’re facing elimination here,’’ he said. “We’re not going to focus on that moving forward.’’
At the time of the incident, though, Subban was angry and skated over to say something to Thornton before heading to see referee Eric Furlatt.
“I don’t know who it was, I got hit twice in the face with it,’’ Subban said. “I knew it was water because it didn’t stick. Some of it got in my face. Some of it got on my visor. Maybe at that point I was a little bit heated because we’re losing the game and we’re trying to score. There’s enough distractions on the ice as well but when somebody is doing something from the bench that is actually stopping you from playing, I can’t see.’’
Subban said he didn’t want to turn it into an international incident.
“It doesn’t really matter,’’ he said. “Maybe at that point, you could say the game was pretty much over but that’s not something I would do. I wouldn’t do that.’’
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien declined to address it. Bruins coach Claude Julien said he didn’t see it.
“I don’t support those things,’’ said Julien. “But I didn’t see it.’’
As for Lucic, Subban seemed more than a little amused.
“He can flex them because he’s got bigger biceps than I [do],’’ said Subban. “He’s a big guy, I’ve got nothing bad to say about him. He plays the game hard. I’ve got nothing but respect for that player. I want to work harder against him, I want to make it tougher. He was showing me he was strong and I felt it.’’
Having said that, Subban believes the first five games have been worth the price of admission.
“I think it’s been good hockey all series,’’ he said. “I don’t think it’s been dirty. It’s been good hockey, entertaining, fun, hard, grinding. That’s what you want to see. If I’m watching hockey, that’s what I want to see, good hockey, clean hockey. That’s what it was today and that’s what it’s been the whole series.’’
The Canadiens flew back to Montreal to regroup for Monday night’s Game 6 at the Bell Centre.
“I always feel strongly about our chances,’’ Subban said. “[The Bruins] created opportunities. I thought we created opportunities, too, we just didn’t finish. You’ve got to finish when you get your chances, especially against a team like this and we didn’t. We’ve got enough [character] here. We’ve just got to bring it.
“Facing elimination, I still think we’re in a good spot, we’re going back home. It’s going to be full of energy and we’re going to be ready to play. We’re resilient. I’ve spoken about the Boston Bruins and how resilient they are. But we’re a resilient team as well. We know we have to be better than we have all series. The fun thing is, the good thing is, I know we can be better.
“This one stings a little bit. We had an opportunity to take a stranglehold on the series and we didn’t.’’