The Canadiens are frustrated. After losing Game 1 to the Lightning in double OT on a bad call, they got roundly blown out yesterday, punting a sloppy, undisciplined 6-2 game that saw Tampa Bay go four of eight on the power play. Falling into an 0-2 series hole is bad; dropping two soul-killing games in their own building might be worse. Brandon Prust’s late-game explosion couldn’t have been a better representation of the Habs’ id.
With two minutes left and the game well out of hand, the Montreal tough guy tripped up Lightning goalie Ben Bishop behind the net. There was, naturally, a difference of opinion.
“He had one thing on his mind and it was probably to make sure he injured him,” Tampa coach Jon Cooper said.
Prust disputed that: “I barely touched him. He flopped like he normally does.”
No matter, everything went to hell. Prust fought Braydon Coburn, earned a game misconduct (among 31 total penalty minutes for the night), and as he was being escorted off the ice, flung his elbow pad at a taunting Lightning bench.
After the game, things got even weirder. Prust accused veteran referee Brad Watson of verbally abusing him after a first-period roughing penalty that got an unsportsmanlike conduct tacked on:
“I thought the original call was kind of soft and I let him know on the way to the penalty box. He kept provoking me. He came to the box and called me every name in the book. He called me a piece of you know what, motherf’er, coward, said he’d drive me right out of this building.
“I just kept going, ‘yeah, OK, OK, OK,’ he just kept on me, kept on me...I wasn’t even looking at him, he just teed me up.
“That’s the ref he is. He tries to play God. He tries to control the game and he did that tonight.”
That’s a pretty serious allegation, one the NHL will certainly ask both Watson and Prust about. But the Canadiens have bigger problems. The Lightning are starting to fire on all cylinders, Steven Stamkos finally found the back of the net, Carey Price isn’t getting any help, and the Habs are going to need to win four out of their next five games—three of them in Tampa—to stay alive. There’s a lot to be frustrated about.