Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban added another chapter to their rivalry in Game 5 Thursday night.
With time winding down in the first period, the two stars came together behind the Penguins net. Crosby then wrestled Subban to the ice, took his back and proceeded to use his head like a speed bag. Subban, who was clinging to Crosby’s stick and leg, eventually broke free and put him in a headlock before the referees stepped in to break it up.
This was Crosby’s explanation of the skirmish:
“I don’t know what he was doing … he was doing some kind of UFC move on my foot,” Crosby said after the game. “I was trying to get out of there. He had lost his stick, he’s just trying to hold me down. I don’t know what he was trying to do with my ankle.”
Both players were sent to the box for holding, which was a curious call. It’s true that both were guilty of holding, but you could argue Crosby deserved an extra two minutes for roughing.
Subban wouldn’t say as much when asked about the incident after the game.
“I’m not an official, so I’m not going to judge what’s over the line and what’s not. I mean … at the end of the day, I just gotta play the game and play the game hard,” Subban said. “If those opportunities come when someone does something that warrants a penalty, then it’s up to the officials to call it. If they don’t, then we just gotta move forward.”
Predators coach Peter Laviolette, on the other hand, didn’t hold back.
“I don’t understand it. I really don’t understand the call,” he said. “I saw my guy get his head cross-checked into the ice 10 times. I don’t even know what he did, P.K. I’m not sure. I disagree with the call.”
To rub salt in the wound, the Penguins came down the ice a minute later and Evgeni Malkin buried the back-breaking goal.
This feud has been an entertaining subplot this series, from Subban’s bad breath allegations at the end of Game 3 to Crosby’s denial and the ensuing Listerine troll job. Even though most of this has been done in jest, it’s not often you see two of the game’s biggest stars carry out a multi-game tiff on and off the ice in the Stanley Cup Final.