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Bittersweet victory

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – The Habs won the game on Thursday night, but they also suffered a major loss.

Prior to puck drop against the Sabres, P.K. Subban was joined at center ice by Elise Beliveau, who was on hand to present the 26-year-old assistant captain with the trophy named in her late husband’s honor. Subban had earned the 2015-16 Jean Beliveau Trophy through his commitment to the community, in no small part thanks to a pledge he made in September to help raise $10 million for the Montreal Children’s Hospital over the next seven years.

Subban went on to play 29:55 against Buffalo, including an enormous 6:57 with the man advantage, collecting his career-high 45th assist of the season by chipping in with a helper on Alex Galchenyuk’s second-period power play marker. He landed three shots on goal and attempted four others in addition to blocking three Sabres’ shots at the other end of the ice.

P.K. Subban suffered a neck injury against the Sabres and was taken to the hospital for further testing following the game.

Then, with 2:26 remaining in the third period with the Habs up 3-2 in the game, Subban was reaching to poke the puck away from Marcus Foligno in the Canadiens’ zone when he suffered an unfortunate collision with teammate, Alexei Emelin. After being tended to by the team’s medical staff, Subban was eventually carted off on a stretcher, but not before managing to flash a “thumbs up” to the crowd as he left the ice.

“Every time the doctors rush onto the ice, we’re worried. When it takes a long time and the player ends up leaving on a stretcher, there’s always worry,” said head coach Michel Therrien, whose star defensemen was taken to the hospital to undergo further testing after the game. “When I went to see him, he was with the doctors. I had a good talk with them and they assured me that he had movement in his extremities, which is a good thing given the circumstances.”

This isn’t the first time in recent history that the Bell Centre faithful has held its collective breath as a Canadiens player was stretchered off the ice with a neck injury. Nearly five years ago to the day, on March 8, 2011, Max Pacioretty lay motionless on the ice for an extended period after being hit into a stanchion by Zdeno Chara. He left that game with a concussion and broken vertebrae, and on Thursday, the emotions immediately came flooding back to the Habs’ captain.

“I’ve been in that position before and it brings back a lot of tough memories. It was really hard to watch,” admitted Pacioretty, who won the 2012 Masterton Trophy after bouncing back from his injury and potting 33 goals the following season. “It was impossible to concentrate after that. Maybe for me more so than other guys. Now I know how guys felt when that happened to me. All we can do is be supportive. Any time you get an injury to that area, it’s very, very scary.

“Most of the time they just have to be careful when it comes to that, though, so we’re hoping for the best,” he added. “I actually one time bumped [Johnny] Boychuk and they brought out the board and it ended up just being back spasms and he ended up travelling home with the team. I think it’s more seeing that and seeing the building quiet and seeing all those doctors on the ice that upset me. This is a sport and it comes second. Any time something scary like that happens, it’s ok to be emotional about it.”

The Canadiens managed to rally for the remaining two-and-a-half minutes of action to earn another two points in the standings. Galchenyuk continued his torrid scoring pace, registering a third-straight multi-goal night to earn first star honors against the Sabres. He became just the 16th player in franchise history to score 25 goals in a season before celebrating his 23rd birthday and now sits atop the team’s leaderboard for goals, but with the way the night ended, scoring streaks were the furthest thing from Galchenyuk’s mind.

“When one of your friends is like that, it’s really difficult. Even right now, you don’t have many words, you just hope he’s ok and pray for the best,” shared Galchenyuk. “It was definitely tough. It’s a good thing there were only two minutes left. It’s a tough thing to go through and you just pray for the best. Everyone on the team is thinking about him right now and we all just hope he’s ok.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

Game Highlights: Canadiens vs. Sabres
The Jean Béliveau Trophy awarded to P.K. Subban
Seventh edition of the Radio-Telethon benefiting the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation 

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