Lots of scoring and wild action took a back seat Wednesday night to a slash that could lead to a suspension for Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.
Brian Flynn's goal was the winner at the end of a wild second period that saw five goals scored and Subban ejected for slashing as Montreal downed the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in the opening game of their NHL playoff series.
Montreal takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series into Game 2 on Friday night. It might not have Subban for that game.
"I agree it was a slashing penalty but I don't agree that it deserved five minutes," said Montreal coach Michel Therrien.
The game broke open when the Canadiens scored twice in a 15-second span of the second frame, the fastest two playoff goals by Montreal since 1998, with Torrey Mitchell and Tomas Plekanec scoring.
But only six seconds later, Lars Eller went off for slashing. Seven seconds after that, Subban took a chop at Mark Stone's hands and the Senators' scoring leader went down in pain, then rushed off for treatment. Subban was slapped with a five-minute major and game misconduct.
"I think it's quite simple — it's a vicious slash on an unprotected part of the body," Senators coach Dave Cameron said. "You either do one of two things. I think it's an easy solution — you either suspend him, or when one of their best players gets slashed just give us five (minutes)."
The emotion-filled match featured the first goals as Canadiens by late-season pick-ups Flynn and Mitchell. Eller scored for Montreal short-handed during Subban's major.
Milan Michalek, Kyle Turris and Mika Zibanejad scored for Ottawa.
The Bell Centre crowd was roaring until Michalek got credit for the opening goal, which was put into the net by Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov. A rebound off the end boards got past two players and Markov tried to tuck it into Carey Price's pads when it went in.
The Senators scored twice through Turris and Zibanejad during Subban's major.
Then Flynn came out of a corner and slid the puck past goalie Andrew Hammond to give Montreal the lead with 2:43 left in the second period.
"Losing a player, playing long stretches on the penalty kill, we didn't get any calls for the first 50 minutes or so, that's strong of us," said Eller.
Stone, who went into the playoffs on a nine-game points streak, returned to play, left again late in the second period, then returned midway through the third frame.
"It's up to the league. Obviously it was a pretty big hack. It looked like he wanted to hurt me," Stone said of Subban's slash. "He had been doing it a couple of times, he tried targeting me a couple of times in the first period off faceoffs."
It was a shaky game for Hammond, who got his team into the playoffs by going 20-1-2 down the stretch. Shots were 39-33 in Montreal's favor.
Notes: A moment of silence was held before the game for Senators assistant coach Mark Reeds, who died this week of cancer at age 55. . . . Canadiens scoring leader Max Pacioretty sat out with an upper body injury but may return for Game 2 on Friday. . . . Michalek was back for the first time since he had an upper body injury March 21.