The Montreal Canadiens came away with a victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night that gave them new life but also cost them forward Brandon Prust.
Prust received a two-game suspension from the NHL for interference during the 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Rangers. His hit on Derek Stepan at 2:45 of the first period left the Rangers center with a broken jaw.
No penalty was assessed against Prust during the game, but the Department of Safety made its ruling on Friday afternoon after a hearing.
Earlier in the day, the Canadiens found themselves answering questions about Prust's hit that injured Stepan, who went back in the game, and whether it affects the series going forward. The broken jaw was diagnosed on Friday morning and Stepan underwent surgery.
"I don't know. But it doesn't change anything for us," Canadiens center Lars Eller said. "We're happy we came out of here with a win last night, and hopefully we can continue to build off that. It doesn't change anything for us who is going to be in the lineup for the other side. It's really all about what we can do."
Montreal coach Michel Therrien knows what it's like to lose a player. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was injured in Game 1 against the Rangers and lost for the series.
"If there is a team that can understand the loss of a player, it's us," he said. "We lost Carey Price in the first game of the series ... and we felt frustrated at the time.
"We're still frustrated not having our goalie, our number one most important player, because those type of plays, usually players like that when they go to the net, something bad could happen like that so fast, and they don't go as fast for icing or they don't fall on the boards because they're going to get hurt."
Plekanec said, "You don't want to see guys getting hurt. It's part of hockey, and with Price, the same thing happened to us. It's unfortunate. You don't want to see that, but it happens."
Being down 2-1 instead of 3-0 in a best-of-seven is a big difference, the Canadiens emphasized in reflecting on their 3-2 overtime victory in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden.
Game 4 is Sunday in New York.
"It's huge. It's huge," Canadiens forward Tomas Plenkanec said Friday. "Like I said, being a 2-1 series or a 3-0, it's a huge swing. We take that. We take that and we've got to be better next game."
The Rangers will be without Stepan and forward Daniel Carcillo, who was suspended 10 games by the NHL for making physical contact with an official after the incident involving Stepan and Prust.
"He tried to finish his check," Therrien said of Prust. "His intention, honestly, was not to hurt Stepan."
Rookie goaltender Dustin Tokarski came through with another big game for the Canadiens in just his second start, stopping 35 shots for his first career playoff win.
"He gave us this chance to win Game 2, and he did yesterday again, and that's what we're going to need from him going forward," Eller said. "I think we were rallying around him, and it brings us extra motivation. Now that Carey's out, we can battle back to this, and that would be huge."