BROSSARD, Quebec - Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban will miss a game because of an injury for the first time in his career.
Subban was released from the hospital late Thursday night after being removed from the ice at Bell Centre during the third period of the Canadiens' 3-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres. After extensive medical testing at Montreal General Hospital, Subban was diagnosed with a minor neck injury and his status is day-to-day, coach Michel Therrien said Friday.
"Feeling good, and feeling the love. Thanks for all the support!!" Subban wrote on his personal Twitter account Friday.
Subban was at the Canadiens practice facility Friday morning, interacting with his teammates. The sight of him in relatively good spirits was welcomed.
"He was walking around today, talking to everybody," Canadiens forward Paul Byron said. "He was obviously still a little sore from the hit. But the fact that nothing was serious is a big relief to everybody."
Therrien ruled Subban out for the Canadiens' home game Saturday against the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m. ET; FS-N, TVA Sports, SN, NHL.TV), marking the first time Subban will miss an NHL game because of an injury. Therrien would not rule out Subban returning in time to face the Florida Panthers at home Tuesday.
Subban has played 274 consecutive regular-season games, a number that jumps to 308 when you include the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The last game he missed was Jan. 30, 2013 at the Ottawa Senators, two days after Subban signed a two-year, $5.75 million contract with the Canadiens, a negotiation that spilled into the start of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
That negotiation cost Subban six games. He also missed six games as a healthy scratch: five games in 2010-11 under coach Jacques Martin and one in 2011-12 under Randy Cunneyworth.
"That's pretty amazing," Therrien said. "He's played some hard minutes and he has a lot of ice time. Unfortunately he won't be able to play [Saturday] but there was a lot of times that nobody knew that he was not 100 percent but he still wanted to keep playing. So I'm sure it's tough for him not playing [Saturday], but the safety of the players is crucial to us."
The Canadiens recalled defenseman Darren Dietz and forward Charles Hudon from St. John's of the American Hockey League on Friday.
Subban was injured with 2:26 remaining in the third period Thursday when he was hit by teammate Alexei Emelin. Subban and Sabres forward Marcus Foligno were battling for a puck when Subban fell to his knees. Emelin arrived to provide support and collided with Subban's head, jerking it hard to the right.
Subban was on the ice for several minutes before medical personnel took him off on a stretcher. His skates were taped together, his head was immobilized and he was taken to the hospital, though he could be seen giving a thumbs-up to his teammates as he passed the Canadiens bench.
"Any time you see the stretcher come out like that, it's never a good feeling," Byron said. "To know he's OK, it wasn't serious, is a big relief to everybody. He's an important part of our team and he's a big leader in the dressing room so it was good to see he wasn't hurt [badly]."
Subban will be one of nine regular players out because of injuries Saturday against the Wild, along with defensemen Jeff Petry, Nathan Beaulieu and Tom Gilbert, forwards Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais, Brian Flynn and Daniel Carr and goaltender Carey Price.
Those nine players account for a combined salary-cap charge of $33.8425 million, according to generalfanager.com. Coming off a season when they had practically no injuries of great significance, the Canadiens have gone through the exact opposite experience this season.
"It's a unique season," Therrien said. "I know those guys [in the locker room], and the one thing I know is they will be well-prepared and they're going to play hard and they're going to do everything they can to win the hockey game no matter what."
The most significant injury has been to Price, the reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner who has played 12 games this season because of a lower-body injury. Rookie Mike Condon, Ben Scrivens and Dustin Tokarski have combined to provide the Canadiens with the fifth-worst 5-on-5 save percentage in the NHL.
One of the bottom nine teams in that category, the Dallas Stars, was in position for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot prior to games Friday.
Price was on the ice Friday morning taking shots from goaltending coach Stephane Waite and said last week he is determined to play this season. The Canadiens enter play Friday six points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference with 14 games left.
Therrien said Price's return was not imminent, that there is no timetable for him to begin practicing with the team and any thought of him playing next week was premature.
But Byron appears to believe it could happen sooner than Therrien is letting on.
"Everyone knows Carey's status; it's hard not to," Byron said. "We know he's skating in full gear right now and it could be any day that he joins us. Obviously when you get a guy like that back in the lineup, it's a pretty big morale boost."
In this "unique" season, the Canadiens could use all the morale boosts they can get.