Habs and Rangers are really in a battle now

 

 
 
 
 
Derek Dorsett #15 of the New York Rangers fights with Brandon Prust of the Canadiens during the first period in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 22, 2014, in New York City.
 

Derek Dorsett #15 of the New York Rangers fights with Brandon Prust of the Canadiens during the first period in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 22, 2014, in New York City.

Photograph by: Al Bello, Getty Images

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NEW YORK — The gloves are off in the Eastern Conference final between the Canadiens and New York Rangers.

Coaches Michel Therrien and Alain Vigneault engaged in a battle of words Friday as the National Hockey League prepared to take disciplinary action against Montreal’s Brandon Prust and New York’s Daniel Carcillo for their transgressions in Game 3 Thursday night. Montreal won in overtime to get back into the series after losing the first two games at home.

Prust, whose robust style of play made him a fan favourite when he was with the Rangers, had a telephone hearing with National Hockey League Player Safety director Stéphane Quintal Friday afternoon and was suspended for two games for a late hit that left Derek Stepan with a broken jaw. Stepan returned to the game Thursday night, but a scan Friday revealed the break and he underwent surgery.

Stepan is out indefinitely and Prust will join Carcillo on the sidelines when the teams resume hostilities Sunday night at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).

The Prust hit was behind the play and there was no penalty called. Vigneault said the missed call led to Carcillo exacting a form of frontier justice as he slammed Prust into the boards. Carcillo then elbowed linesman Scott Driscoll as the official tried to herd him into the penalty box. Carcillo received an automatic 10-game suspension for applying “physical force to an official” after the NHL reviewed the referee’s game report.

Vigneault said he couldn’t condone Carcillo’s actions, but said the incident never would have occurred if Prust had been penalized for his hit.

“The same player who called (Chris) Kreider’s hit on (Carey) Price accidentally on purpose made a late hit,” Vigneault said. “Everything we want to get out of the game, and that was his hit on Stepan. What saddens me about that hit is if the call is made on the ice, we’re on a five-minute power play and what happened to Dan Carcillo — and it was inexcusable and he’s going to pay a huge price for it — but he’s not put in that position (to retaliate).”

Therrien said nobody likes to see players get hurt, but added the Canadiens know the pain of losing a top player.

“If anybody knows what it’s like to lose a player, it’s us,” Therrien said. “We lost Carey Price in the first game of the series because of that hit by (Chris) Kreider and we felt frustrated at the time. We’re still frustrated to lose our No. 1 goalie.”

Therrien had described Kreider’s drive to the net against Price as reckless.

“Usually players like that, when they go to the net, something bad can happen because they go so fast,” Therrien said. “They don’t go as fast for icing or when they go along the boards because they know they can get hurt. When they fall on the goalie, they know they won’t get hurt. The only one who gets hurt is the goalie.”

Vigneault described the Kreider incident, which left Price with a right knee injury and put him out for the remainder of the series, as a “hockey play” and Therrien used the same term to describe Prust’s hit on Stepan.

“(Prust’s) intention was not to hurt him and Kreider, even if he was going hard to the net, I think his intention was not to hurt Carey Price and, honestly, Brandon Prust was trying to finish his check.”

One thing is certain: the intensity in this series has been ratcheted up since Game 1. These teams hadn’t met in the playoffs since 1996 and the absence of a recent postseason history made for a tepid start to this series. But the Canadiens’ overtime win in Game 3 silenced any talk of an easy series for the Rangers.

“Both teams have one goal in common and that’s to reach the Stanley Cup final,” Therrien said. “There’s going to be emotion and the compete level is going to get higher.”

phickey@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: zababes1

 
 
 
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Derek Dorsett #15 of the New York Rangers fights with Brandon Prust of the Canadiens during the first period in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 22, 2014, in New York City.
 

Derek Dorsett #15 of the New York Rangers fights with Brandon Prust of the Canadiens during the first period in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 22, 2014, in New York City.

Photograph by: Al Bello, Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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