NHL playoffs: 4 stories from opening night

The Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators staged a wild opening game to the Stanley Cup playoffs Wednesday night, while the Calgary Flames used a goal in the final 30 seconds to upset the Vancouver Canucks.

Subban creates controversy; Habs prevail; Flames edge Canucks

P.K. Subban ejected for slashing

8 years ago
Duration 3:23
Canadiens defenceman slashes Mark Stone.

If the first night of the Stanley Cup playoffs was any indication, then we're in for an exciting series between the Canadiens and Senators. The Flames hold bragging rights over the Canucks — at least for now, while Chicago's rookie goaltender made a strong case for more playing time.

Here are four stories from Wednesday night:

Wild game between Habs, Sens

The Canadiens prevailed 4-3 over the Senators in Game 1 at the Bell Centre, despite a pair of unfortunate incidents that could have easily swung the odds in favour of the visitors. 

Ottawa got on the board first, thanks to an own goal that deflected off the stick of Montreal defenceman Andrei Markov.

Then, in the middle frame, defenceman P.K. Subban was incensed after being ejected for slashing Senators rookie Mark Stone on his wrist.

Subban was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the slash, which forced Stone to the dressing room with an injury.

The call sparked controversy, especially when Stone returned to action and was even involved in a scrum near the end of the game.

Stone also took a moment to provide some comic relief from all the excitement and intensity when he struggled to take a sip from his water bottle. 

Most of the damage for both teams was done in an eventful middle frame in which the Canadiens and Senators combined to score six goals. 

Ottawa struck twice during the five-minute power play, but also surrendered a goal during that span.

When the dust settled, Brian Flynn's goal at the 17:17 mark of the second period held up as the game winner. 

Flames' Russell earns fire helmet with late goal

Calgary edged Vancouver 2-1, with the difference maker being a goal by Kris Russell with 30 seconds left in the game.

The Flames defenceman picked an excellent time to score his first playoff goal since 2009 with Columbus. He tallied four goals and 30 assists during the regular season. 

Despite the loss, the game started out on a positive note for the Canucks and Bo Horvat. The rookie centre buried his first playoff goal to finally awake the scorekeeper 12 minutes into the second period. 

Darling saves the day for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks eventually beat the Predators 4-3 in double-overtime, but there were some interesting twists and turns along the path to victory.

Nashville ignited the home crowd by scoring three unanswered goals in the first period, two courtesy of Colin Wilson and one by Viktor Stalberg.

​When the second period began, Chicago opted to replace Corey Crawford, who looked shaky in allowing a trio of goals on just 12 shots.

Rookie Scott Darling was given the nod to take over between the pipes.

The Blackhawks responded and 20 minutes later, the game was tied.

The 26-year-old netminder, with all of 14 games of experience, turned away a whopping 42 shots to give his team a chance.

Duncan Keith delivered at the other end to complete the comeback.

Isles feel at home in Washington

So much for home-ice advantage as the Islanders handed the Capitals a 4-1 defeat in Washington.

One of the differences for New York was a two-goal performance from Brock Nelson. He beat Capitals netminder Braden Holtby six minutes into the first period and added a late empty netter to put the game out of reach.

Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless in eight shot attempts as he registered a minus-2 rating for the night. 

Another factor for the Islanders may have been the presence of some dedicated fans in the building.