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The second-seeded Montreal Canadiens and seventh-seeded Ottawa Senators needed only one postseason game for a heated rivalry to develop. Ottawa scored three third-period goals to steal away home-ice advantage in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round series on Thursday, but the defining moment of the game was a hit by Senators defenseman Eric Gryba that left Canadiens center Lars Eller bloodied and unconscious. Eller suffered a concussion and dental and facial fractures, all but assuring an emotional cauldron in Friday's Game 2 in Montreal.
Gryba's availability for the game - and the remainder of the best-of-seven matchup - will be determined Friday after he confers with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Gryba insisted there was no intent to injure Eller on the jarring open-ice hit. "I stepped up to make a hit and I kept my shoulder down," Gryba said. "I kept my elbow down." Canadiens coach Michel Therrien declined to comment on the hit, but Eller's teammates left little doubt about their feelings. "That's a dirty hit," forward Rene Bourque said. "Not much you can do about it."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC
ABOUT THE SENATORS: Gryba's hit on Eller overshadowed a spectacular performance by goaltender Craig Anderson, who made 48 saves - 41 over the first two periods - to keep his team in position for the comeback. "Andy, what can you say?" defenseman Marc Methot said. "He's a machine back there, he just keeps going and going." Methot set up a tally and scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period while fellow blue-liner Erik Karlsson also recorded a goal and an assist. Karlsson has registered six points in four games since returning from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Rookie Jakob Silfverberg also notched a goal and assist in his first playoff game.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS: Montreal set a franchise postseason record with 50 shots and scored twice in a 59-second span during a 27-shot barrage in the second period, which also set team mark. "I can't ask for a better game from the team. We got 50 shots on net," Therrien said. "It doesn't happen very often that you get 50 shots in the playoffs." Bourque and rookie Brendan Gallagher scored for the Canadiens, but the shaky play of netminder Carey Price remains an ongoing cause for concern for Montreal. Price struggled mightily down the stretch and has allowed at least three goals in eight of his last 11 appearances.
1. Price fell to 8-16 lifetime in the postseason.
2. Anderson, who lost a tooth in the game, made a career playoff-best 51 saves as a member of Colorado in 2010.
3. Eller remained hospitalized overnight. He also sustained a broken nose and lost several teeth.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 4, Senators 2