MONTREAL (AP) — The Montreal Canadiens are down a game and a key player early in their series with the Ottawa Senators.
Center Lars Eller suffered a concussion and facial fractures after taking a big hit from Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba in the second period of the Senators' 4-2 victory in Game 1 of their playoff series Thursday night.
Eller, who was taken off on a stretcher with a pool of blood on the ice, was spending the night in a hospital, the team said.
The hit came as Eller took a pass up the middle from Montreal defenseman Raphael Diaz.
"It's tough seeing a guy laying in a heap with blood coming out," said Canadiens center Ryan White. "You never want to see that."
Gryba was handed a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct.
"I can't make any comment," said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. "We all saw the hit. I'm sure the league is going to review it."
While their coach remained tight-lipped, Canadiens players didn't hide their feelings.
"I'm not sure where the contact was, but obviously it wasn't a clean play. It's something you've got to take out (of the game)," winger Rene Bourque said.
Replays showed Gryba making contact with Eller's head and body almost simultaneously.
"For me it looked it like it was right to the head. The league will look at it and take care of it," said rookie Montreal winger Brendan Gallagher. "It's tough to see your teammate down, tough to see him hurt. You just want to pick him up the best you can."
Gryba said he saw the replay and maintained the hit was clean.