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At his very best

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – It isn’t easy to get under P.K. Subban’s skin. He proved that once again on Friday night.

Fourty-eight hours after taking plenty of heat for a costly giveaway against the Colorado Avalanche, Subban put that all aside and delivered his ninth multi-point effort of the season in a 3-2 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre. The win snapped the Canadiens’ three-game losing streak, and No. 76 earned another first-star nod after putting up his team-leading 40th and 41st assists on the year.

It was a statement game for Subban, who wasn’t about to let anyone or anything get him off his game. That just isn’t the way the Norris Trophy winning rearguard operates.

“I’m primed every game. That’s the way I prepare for every game. I really don’t care what people think about me or about this team. It’s about what goes on in this dressing room,” said Subban, who led all skaters on both teams by logging nearly 31 minutes of ice time on Friday night. “For me, I prepare to be the best player on the ice every night and be the best that I can be every night.”

After picking up the secondary helper on Dale Weise’s 14th goal of the season early in the opening frame, Subban notched the primary assist on Max Pacioretty’s game-tying power play marker with 11:25 remaining in regulation time. He also chipped in with three of the Canadiens’ 31 shots on goal and dished out a pair of hits on a night where all eyes were seemingly on him.

In the aftermath of the Canadiens’ first win in 10 days, though, Subban insisted the victory itself was far more significant than his standout performance on the back end. After all, the Canadiens still sit six points out of a wild card spot with 23 games remaining on the schedule.

“It’s a win. A win is a win for us. We need as many as we can. In this dressing room, we still know that we have an opportunity to make the playoffs. Every game is really, really important. Today was just another opportunity for us to get two points,” explained Subban, who leads the Canadiens with 46 points, three clear of Tomas Plekanec. “I think you can build off a win. We’ve had some success in this building and we always look forward to playing here.”

That’s for sure. Sixteen of the Canadiens’ 28 wins this season have come on home turf, so there really was no better place for Subban to deliver another strong showing with the fans – and his teammates – behind him from start to finish.

“We have his back. One play doesn’t define him as a person. He’s a great character guy. He means a lot to this hockey team. It’s about 20 people coming together every night as a team supporting each other,” shared Paul Byron, who scored the shootout winner, beating Flyers netminder Michal Neuvirth with a wrister upstairs. “You could tell the fans were supporting him right away by chanting ‘P.K., P.K.’ [early in the game]. They had his back. That’s important.”

It’s safe to say Subban felt that love and ran with it, proving his detractors wrong once again.

“As far as critics and people who want to pick apart what’s going on in this dressing room, that’s fine. I expect to hear it from now until the end of the season,” said Subban. “I’ve been here long enough to know that the best thing to do is to go out there and perform and produce.”

It most definitely is.

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for

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