By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Justin Williams is known as one of the most clutch playoff performers of his generation, but on Sunday the Hurricanes captain lost his cool. Unsurprisingly, at the center of Williams' meltdown was Brad Marchand.
To be clear, Marchand got away with a high stick to Williams' neck area. But Williams got the only penalty in this instance because he retaliated demonstratively and unnecessarily. After getting up from the high stick, Williams barks at Marchand while grabbing him by the throat and clutching his chinstrap.
Much of the time, the officials only see the second part of such tussles. That's why pests like Marchand can be so effective. You get under a guy's skin and goad him into something stupid while you, literally, skate. Marchand couldn't resist mocking Williams by marking the captain's "C" on his jersey as the Canes captain headed to the penalty box.
Marchand mocks Justin Williams with the captain’s C pic.twitter.com/6Tatubd9VW
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 12, 2019
Marchand wasn't really in a needling mood anymore after the game, especially since Williams later scored to break up Tuukka Rask's shutout bid.
"I think he was a little frustrated that he fell down, but it was just good that we were able to capitalize on that opportunity," Marchand said. "I've been on that side plenty of times. It's not fun. But he's their captain and leader over there. He bounced back and got a big goal late to get them going. He's got a lot of character. He plays hard and he's a good player for them."
Slightly hesitant to address his "C" gesture, Marchand remarked: "Uh, yeah. Yeah. I guess."
Williams' penalty proved to be costly, as Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk scored on the ensuing power play. The goal put the Bruins up 4-0 and the unraveling had commenced.
Even on the goal itself, Torey Krug and Charlie Coyle caught the Canes napping for a long stretch pass, setting up the rush that led to Grzelcyk's tally.Williams' description of the game and the series to this point for the reeling Hurricanes? It stunk.
"You spend all this time leading up with everyone writing articles about how great we are. You come out and sometimes you've got to eat a poop sandwich," Williams said, via ESPN's Emily Kaplan. It doesn’t taste good. You have to chew on it for a couple days and hopefully get the taste out."
Hopefully, the captain chews on that poop as much as anyone. The Hurricanes can't have their leader falling for Marchand's shenanigans. Debate about the incident all you want. It's not uncommon to see only the retaliator getting in trouble. There was no need to start getting all grabby in that moment.
If Williams can't keep his cool, he runs the risk of his energy permeating throughout the Hurricanes lineup. They'll need to play desperate hockey in Game 3 on Tuesday in Raleigh if they want to make this any sort of competitive series.
They won't be competitive if poop sandwiches continue to top the menu.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].