The Montreal Canadiens have struggled mightily over the past three months, so one would understand if some of the players were reaching the peak of their frustration, even in the midst of a three-game win streak. For P.K. Subban, the toll the past few months has taken may have come out all at once in the final minute of Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Montreal was down a goal with the net empty and less than a minute remaining with the puck in Buffalo’s zone when a pass was intercepted by the Sabres’ Ryan O’Reilly and cleared down the ice. With the puck heading down the boards and towards the Canadiens’ zone, it appeared Subban was going to reach the puck in time to turn it back up ice for one last Montreal rush. Instead, it caught the skates of linesman Brad Kovachik and died.
Buffalo’s Evander Kane, who was chasing the puck, was able to scoop it up and fire it into the open net, all the while Subban was motioning wildly about the play that had occurred in front of him:
To say Subban was displeased with what had transpired would be an understatement. After addressing the referee, Subban skated right to Kovachik and gave him an earful. For his outburst, Subban was sent to the dressing room with the Canadiens down 6-4 with 55 seconds left.
Really, though, it’s hard to blame anyone involved for their actions, Subban included. The Canadiens need every point they can get at this point in the season, and while some may disagree with Subban’s reaction, it’s understandable. Kovachik very clearly had no intention of getting in the way of the puck, so it makes sense why he would take umbrage with Subban’s outburt. And Garret Rank, the referee who appeared to help give Subban an early shower, was simply taking care of a situation that was on the verge of getting out of control.
Kane’s goal would cap off the victory for the Sabres. Following Friday’s loss, Montreal now falls five points back of Pittsburgh for the final wild-card spot in the East. Making matters worse, every team ahead of the Canadiens has at least one game in hand, while the Penguins have two.