We have our first controversy-cum-scandal of the Boston/Montreal series, long-time observers of the rivalry will tell you, it was only a matter of time.
Watergate is already taken, so this regrettable episode will have to be dubbed Squirt-gate.
In the final moments of Game 5 between the Bruins and Canadiens, rugged Boston forward Shawn Thornton was apparently caught by television cameras squirting a water bottle at the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban as he skated past the bench during a sequence in play.
Subban spun around to yammer at the Bruins’ bench, and after the game – won 4-2 by Boston on the strength of Carl Soderberg’s three-point night – he was asked about the episode.
“With Thornty, I don’t know if it was him, but somebody had squirted water twice you know at the end of the game there, hit me in the visor, I couldn’t even see the last minute-and-a-half out there, so I was pretty upset about that. But that’s part of the game,” he said.
When it was put to him whether it really is part of the game – if the tape conclusively shows Thornton squirting water he can expect a fine – Subban said “I don’t know if it’s part of the game, but I’m sure that if that was me who did it, it would be a different story, you know? Probably be on the news for the next three days, but I don’t expect that to be a story. But listen, whatever it takes to win, right?”
There is a serious part to this, of course: Subban’s visor was spattered with drops, ensuring his vision was limited with the Habs net empty and Montreal pressing for a late goal.
But as Subban himself said, it shouldn’t overshadow the main talking point from this game: after their worst effort of the playoffs, the Habs are now facing elimination.
“Listen, they beat us, that’s not the reason why we lost today. It’s just one of those things that frustrates you even more towards the end of the game. I don’t want to take anything away from their team, they played well today, they executed, we’ve got to be better. Now it’s do or die for us going back home,” he said.
Teammate Josh Gorges insisted the Habs aren’t prepared to fold their tent, and said it’s not especially hard to shut out the result.
That sounds suspiciously like bravado, but he’s right when he says “we said it from the start of the playoffs, even when we’ve won games, that the next day is a new day.
“It’s doesn’t get harder to park it because we can’t come into tomorrow and wonder what we did wrong today. We can’t think about this Monday. It’s: what do we have to do to get a win. We don’t have a choice but to win,” he said.
The first indication the Bruins would be present and accounted for came as they lined up for the opening faceoff.
On left wing, Boston’s Brad Marchand gave a vigorous chop to opposite number Brendan Gallgher, then slammed him to the ice before the puck could be dropped.
Then, on Boston’s third shift, Reilly Smith cranked a shot from the slot off Carey’s Price’s right goal-post.
It was apparent to everyone in attendance there were goals in this game.
The Bruins would score three straight, and while Montreal would draw to within 4-2 on a late power-play goal from Subban – his 12th point of the playoffs, earned after a slick stick-handling display forced Matt Bartkowski to haul him down – there would be no miracle.
Montreal spent much of the closing six minutes with Price on the bench in favour of a sixth attacker, but couldn’t narrow the margin.
“There were stretches we played very well. They capitalized on a couple of opportunities right at the start of the second period. That was a tough hole to dig out of,” Price said. “We’re going to stay positive. The series is not over yet, we’re going home and we’re going to bring our absolute best.”