In a series projected to be dominated by goaltending, the first game was quite the opposite. The two Canadian teams in the Eastern Conference met tonight, and turned what was supposed to be a low-scoring close matchup into a seven-point intense rivalry meeting to open up the 2015 NHL Playoffs.
Ottawa was looking good after P.K. Subban, Montreal's top defenseman and Norris Trophy candidate got ejected from the game in the first period. A suspension is possible, however the NHL will have to review the play first before any further punishment is dished out. The Senators also got a lucky early goal after Andrei Markov scored on Carey Price, resulting in an own goal for the Canadiens. Montreal would end up recovering however, and despite an off night from Markov defensively, Subban getting ejected, and no Max Paciorretty due to injury, the Canadiens managed to pull out a somewhat surprising victory despite being the higher seeded team.
The Senators jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first, and would hold it for the entire period after the own goal by Markov, but the second period quickly changed the course of the game, and potentially the series early. Montreal would score two goals fifteen seconds apart from Torrey Mitchell and Tomas Plekanec about halfway through the period, both assisted by Subban. Kyle Turris then scored for the Senators to make it 2-2 with around ten minutes left in the second period. Eric Karlsson and Patrick Weircoch got each of their first assists on the goal, as both would assist the next Senators goal as well. Lars Eller ended up putting one in for Montreal, giving Brian Flynn his second assist of the night for Montreal, before Ottawa's second goal assisted by Karlsson and Weircoch was scored by Mika Zibenajad. It was tied 3-3 until Montreal's hero tonight Brian Flynn added the game winner for the Canadiens late in the second period, while Carey Price kept Ottawa scoreless in the third, leading to the victory.
Both goaltenders had good games, but not compared to their recent ones as far as goals allowed. Price managed 30 saves on 33 shots while Hammond managed 35 saves on 39 shots. The defenses for both teams seemed to be struggling all game, which if continues should lead to a much higher scoring series than many expected due to the goaltenders play. While Price and Hammond can each win games for their teams, they need much better defensive play to help them out, as there is only so much a goaltender can do when either facing almost 40 shots or having his defense score an own goal. This makes whatever may happen to Subban especially crucial to this series, as if he is suspended for any period of time, it could give Ottawa a chance to knock Carey Price off his game with a rough defensive outing.
Montreal is currently up in the series 1-0, and still has home ice for game two, which will be played on Friday night. Price and Hammond are both expected to start, while key players P.K. Subban (possibility of suspension) and Max Paciorretty (injury) could both miss game two for Montreal.