There's no point in looking hither and yon, just find the action and look at the centre of it.
No one occupies the spotlight quite like P.K. Subban.
These are his playoffs, we just get to watch.
Game 3 between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins may have been influenced by tactical changes and a Bell Centre in full voice, but it was won thanks in large measure thanks to Subban, the playoffs’ most dangerous attacking defenceman.
He now has six points in three games against the Bruins – the highest single series total by a Habs defenceman against Boston in a quarter-century.
His 11 points in the playoffs are third in the entire league.
It was a performance reminiscent of a man Subban credits him with advising him on how to manage the bigger moments.
“You don’t want to poke the bear. I thought we did a good job of playing smart. You’ve got to recognize the situation. A wise man once told me – Serge Savard – play the clock. Recognize the score. Recognize the timing of the game. Making sure you're doing the right things,” Subban said.
“When you're up 3-1, you want to make sure you're playing the right way, and you're staying out the crap after the whistles. You don't want to give them any opportunity to get back in the game.”
Said Dale Weise of his young teammate: “He just loves the big stage, I get pumped up about it. Before the opening faceoff he usually does this big loop and nearly takes out the linesman.”
Subban was, to put it mildly, a busy man on Tuesday.
He set up his team’s first goal, took the game’s first penalty, scored Montreal’s second, clashed swords with former World Junior teammate Brad Marchand (among others) and tried to get a piece of the Bruins’ Carl Soderberg in the third period when the latter flattened goalie Carey Price.
At one point he left the game because his shirt was cut into ribbons by a wayward Boston skate and stripped to his undershirt on the bench, scattering elbow pads and other detritus.
By the time he pulled on his new shirt and was tying it into place when Weise scored; unable to raise his arms, he just jumped up and down and yelled.
“You saw that, eh?” he laughed later on.
In the event the Habs won 4-2, snapping Boston’s string of 12 straight victories in game three of a series.
At 12:38 of the first, Subban lined up Boston’s Reilly Smith along the boards for one of his trademark hindquarter checks, but the Bruins rookie took evasive action, and as a result Subban caught him in the chest with the back of his elbow and upper arm.
He compounded the error by crashing into Vanek.
“I was pretty mad about the call at first, and then I watched the replay and my arm did get up on him. I mean, I try to come across as a d-man sometimes and step up, I usually do a good job of not putting the other forward in a difficult position,” he said. “I’m not a dirty player, I don’t try to elbow guys, but you could see my arm did get up, so it was a good call. The ref spoke to me about it after, I told him I saw the replay on the board and it was a penalty.
Subban atoned for the hit almost exactly two minutes later.
Weise corralled a loose puck and head-manned it to Lars Eller, who spotted Subban sneaking out of the penalty box and hit him in full flight.
Subban casually faked a shot, gave himself a better angle and snapped it past a sprawling Tuukka Rask.
When Subban wheeled away in fist-pumping celebration it may have been the fastest he’s skated all year.
“Coming out of the box, Larry (Eller) made a good play in the neutral zone. I just went in at Tuukka. To be honest with you, I was pretty surprised, a little bit nervous, he's a good goalie. Just tried to bury my head, make a move, the puck went in for me,” he said.
The Habs got their first goal midway through the first on a play where Michael Bournival used his estimable speed to pressure Boston rearguard Kevan Miller into a turnover from a Josh Gorges clear-in.
After some solid work along the boards by Bournival and Tomas Plekanec, the puck was cycled behind the net and eventually came to Subban near the right point.
From there, he made a delicate little dish to Vanek in the slot, whose extravagant slap-pass couldn’t have hit Plekanec’s stick more squarely if he’d hand-delivered it.
The Czech centre had all the time in the world to read a chapter of Proust, brush his teeth, and deposit the puck past a flailing Rask.
Within four minutes, Subban had scored, and in the second, Weise made it 3-0 for Montreal.
The Habs have had trouble handling the Bruins at even-strength in this series, but Weise, like Subban and Plekanec before him, scored at five-on-five.
It came against the run of play, with the Bruins buzzing around the Montreal zone – Murray and Mike Weaver were the defence pair on the ice – but when Weaver stepped out to block a shot, Daniel Brière picked up the rebound and sent a pass up ice to Weise, who had split Andrej Meszaros and Johnny Boychuk, and beat Rask through the legs.
At the other end, Price was in typical form, although he was saved by a goalpost yet again in the second period; he made 25 saves on the night.
Bergeron won a faceoff against Tomas Plekanec, skated to the front of the net, and reached around Gorges to knock Torey Krug’s shot, which was going wide, into the top corner.
“I’m pissed off that they scored that second goal and I’m on the ice for it. I don’t want that to happen,” Subban said.
The Bruins drew to within a goal with just over two minutes to play – Iginla creating havoc in front of Price while Andrej Meszaros launched a rocket from the point – but that would be it, Eller would score into an empty net.
Earlier Krug, who spoke over the weekend about how the Bruins had noticed Price is vulnerable to high shots through traffic, made an eye-catching play to keep the puck in at the Habs’ blueline, and stormed to the net, where he was thwarted by Price and slid into the corner.
After the whistle, Price skated over and flipped the puck at him.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said when asked about it after the game.