Needless to say, Thursday’s game three of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers was a truculent affair. So much so, in fact, that the reverberations were still being felt on Friday. The aftermath of the Habs’ overtime win will now shape the future of the series; and perhaps the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
One hit set everything in motion. Now, the fate of three players has changed drastically. In Thursday’s contest, Canadiens forward Brandon Prust rocked former Rangers teammate Derek Stepan with a vicious shoulder to the chin. Although Stepan returned to the contest (assisting on the game-tying goal late in the third period), it was revealed Friday that Stepan suffered a broken jay on the play.
"The four [officials] missed the call," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. "The same player [Prust] that called the hit on Price 'accidental but on purpose.' Late hit, everything you want to get out of the game.”
Although no penalty was called on the play, Prust was issued a two game suspension by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for interference. As for Stepan, had surgery on Friday, and is out indefinitely.
As is often the case in hockey, Stepan’s teammates decided to dole out their own discipline in the minutes following the hit. New York agitator Dan Carcillo laid out Prust with a heavy hit in the corner. Immediately after, pugilist Derek Dorsett engaged Prust in a fight. All three of the men headed to the penalty box; with Prust and Dorsett getting five minute majors for fighting, and Carcillo a two minute minor for charging.
En route to the sin bin however, Carcillo gave linesman Scott Driscoll a couple elbows to the face. Appropriately nicknamed “Car-Bomb,” Carcillo was issued a game misconduct at the time; then on Friday, was issued an automatic 10-game suspension.
“What saddens me is that if the call [on Prust] was made on the ice, we're on a five-minute power play,” said Vigneault. “And what happened to Dan Carcillo -- and what Dan did was inexcusable and he's going to pay a big price for it -- but if the call is made on the ice, he's not put in that position."
When game four is played on Sunday, it will be done so without Carcillo, Prust and (most likely) Stepan; though the animosity will still be there. Don’t be surprised if some fireworks are as well.