BOSTON — The joy of the Boston Bruins’ 5-1 win over Montreal in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series tonight at TD Banknorth Garden was tempered a bit by a late-game hit Milan Lucic made on Canadiens agitator Maxim Lapierre with 4:32 left in the game.
Lapierre skated at Lucic in front of the Montreal goal after Lucic and Habs defenseman Mathieu Schneider exchanged pleasantries. You can see the hit in the clip below, but Lucic seemed to catch Lapierre in the head with either his glove or his stick. Either way, he is definitely still holding his stick when he hits him. And what was originally announced as a fighting penalty was changed to a match penalty. That means Lucic is suspended upon review.
While Lucic was unavailable to the media after the game, Bruins head coach Claude Julien defended his player.
“I think in Looch’s situation, obviously he might’ve lost his composure a little bit in that area. But what you’ve got to remember is he got elbowed in the head and then high sticked by Schneider. And then Lapierre comes in — Lapierre, who’s been an instigator throughout the whole series and even during the regular season. And what Looch did is react to him coming at him. It wasn’t premeditated and in reviewing it, he hit him with his glove. He had his stick in his hands, but the glove hit the helmet,” said Julien.
“Had the stick hit him in the head, I think Lapierre would’ve been down. But Lapierre stayed up and kept going at Looch,” the coach continued. “If there’s one thing I know, it certainly wasn’t premeditated. We all saw the (Calgary’s Mike) Cammalleri incident and nothing happened there. So I just think that it was certainly not premeditated and was more about protecting himself. And in reviewing the glove is what hit him in the helmet.”
Publicly, at least, the Habs didn’t seem to be chomping at the bit for justice from the league.
“It is not my business to give someone a suspension,” said Lapierre. “In the playoffs you give some and you receive some. It was my turn. Like I said, it is not my business to give out suspension. They have the video and they are going to take care of it.”
Montreal head coach Bob Gainey said: “I’ll just wait for the NHL to look at it. There’s a lot of pushing and shoving, and I’ve got confidence they’ll see it and they can judge from the situation.”
While the Cammalleri incident that Julien referred to — the Flames winger nailed Chicago’s Martin Havlat with a right hook while his hand was still on his stick — was egregious, it came in a 1-1 game in Game 1 of that series. The lopsided nature of the Bruins’ victory might inspire the league to issue some sort of discipline.
Here’s a look at the play in question: