OTTAWA — Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said he did not sleep well Thursday night.
His left wrist still was sore after being slashed twice by Canadiens rookie defenseman P.K. Subban. His sensibilities about how hockey should be played were raw as well.
It wasn't so much that he and Subban had had a fast-escalating stick battle in front of the net. It was that Subban embellished being injured by collapsing and staying on the ice, and then skated off holding his left arm when replays showed Lecavalier's wicked two-handed slash hit Subban's left thigh pad.
The deception worked. Lecavalier was ejected from the 3-2 shootout loss at the Bell Centre with 8.5 seconds left in the first period. But Lecavalier, vindicated when the league did not hand out supplemental discipline, said the display was disgraceful, especially because Subban did not miss a shift.
"He was obviously faking," Lecavalier said Friday. "Maybe in a game like soccer, where it happens a lot and it's part of the game, it's fine. But hockey, it's not a game like that. Guys just don't go down. It's the way it's always been. Of course, there's a few guys like that, and he's one of them."
Perhaps in Subban's mind the ends justify the means but that can't be known because the Canadiens did not make him available to reporters. But he did get one of Tampa Bay's best players off the ice, and with a five-minute slashing penalty to boot. Subban got a minor for the same offense.
As Lightning coach Guy Boucher said, "When you see P.K. almost dying on the floor there, it has a tendency to make you give a worse penalty to Vinny. He got away with what he wanted."
In a sense, it is similar to the Yankees' Derek Jeter faking he was hit by a pitch when the ball actually hit his bat in a game against the Rays last season. But baseball has a history of that kind of gamesmanship and doesn't have nearly the NHL's macho play-through-anything code.
"Jeter I can understand a little bit," Tampa Bay wing Ryan Malone said. "But to stay down on the ice like he was in shock or broke his arm … we're hockey players. I always tell my wife, if I'm down on the ice, I'm probably unconscious. Otherwise, you are supposed to get up.
"But the game is changing. You're seeing more of these young guys come in. I think a lot of people have already talked about Subban and how he plays and the lack of respect for the guys who played before."
Flyers captain Mike Richards once said Subban, 21, should watch his back: "Something might happen to him if he continues to be that cocky."
"He's the type of guy who doesn't respect anybody," Lecavalier said. "He's not a well-liked guy, not because of the way he plays, (but) because of the way he does things. He's a great player. He will be for a long time. But his attitude, just the way he is … ."
That is why Boucher, who coached Subban last season at AHL Hamilton, said Lecavalier should have been smarter even as, Lecavalier claimed, Subban slew-footed him twice.
"Vinny didn't do this out of the blue," Boucher said. "I won't blame him for getting mad, but what I want to say is there are other ways to get back at a player. When you're going to dump the puck and you're the one forechecking, there are ways to get him clean and hard."
Or, Lightning goalie Mike Smith said, "Vinny could have gone down. (Subban) gave it to him pretty good. But Vinny isn't going to fall down on a little slash. He stays on his feet. He goes down, it's a different story."
OUT: Wing Simon Gagne, with two goals, six points in his past three games, will miss tonight's game with Ottawa and perhaps Tuesday with the Islanders, Boucher said, after a followup procedure on the neck injury that kept him out of 18 games in October and November.