When the door to the Ottawa Senators locker room opened up after Wednesday night's Game 1 at the Bell Centre, Mark Stone was standing by himself in the corner and waiting for the onslaught of questions.
The Senators forward was immediately swarmed by reporters, who wanted Stone's reaction after he was involved in the game's most controversial moment of a 4-3 Canadiens victory.
Stone tried his best to stay calm and composed when dealing with the media, but it was clear that he was seething underneath the surface. In the second period, he was the victim of a two-hand slash to the hand/wrist area by Montreal defenceman PK Subban -- who was subsequently ejected from the game after he was assessed a five-minute penalty. Stone was adamant that it was no accident on Subban's part, going as far to suggest that he had tried a similar tactic earlier in the game.
"He'd been doing it a couple of times. He tried targeting it a couple times in the first period off face-offs. I think he knew what he was doing," said Stone -- leaving little doubt about his feelings on the situation. "You guys saw it. He gave me a pretty good whack. Kind of wound up with a pretty big two-hand. I came in and put some ice on it and tried to battle through."
Stone had been Ottawa's best player down the stretch drive of an improbable playoff run. He collected points in nine straight games to end the regular season and his two-goal performance in the finale in Philadelphia clinched a playoff spot for Ottawa. So that the Habs would be targeting Stone as a player to watch is no surprise; but for the Sens to suggest they targeted him for injury is a different story entirely.
The Senators organization is screaming for a further suspension to Subban, saying the five-minute major penalty and Game 1 ejection is not enough punishment for such an egregious offence.
"It's up to the league. Obviously it was a pretty big hack. Looked like he wanted to hurt me," added Stone, who said he had yet to watch a replay of the incident.
Senators coach Dave Cameron went one step further, suggesting that if the NHL doesn't provide further discipline to Subban, it will serve as a green light for his players to take a similar course of action against the Canadiens.
"I think it's quite simple. It's a vicious slash on the unprotected part of the body. You either do one of two things and I think it's an easy solution. You either suspend him -- or when one of their best players gets slashed, just give us five. It's not that complicated," Cameron told reporters in his post-game news conference.
Stone didn't reveal to reporters the extent of his injury or his availability for Game 2, saying he only needed more evaluation. For his part, Stone's linemate Clarke MacArthur backs up the notion that Subban's vicious slash was not the only time the Sens rookie had a bullseye on his sweater.
"Yeah, I think he was getting targeted. That wasn't the first one he took. That was a lumberjack slash," said MacArthur. "But he took a few good ones before that -- just noticing from my point of view. Those things happen. They called the five and we'll see what happens from here."
Subban was unavailable for comment post-game, but predictably, his head coach believed that justice had already been served by virtue of his five-minute penalty and a game ejection.
"I agree it was a slashing penalty. It didn't deserve five minutes," said Michel Therrien.
The incident immediately brought back the bad feelings and animosity between the two clubs from their previous playoff series in 2013. In Game 1 that year, Eric Gryba knocked Lars Eller out of the series with a controversial hit that left the Habs forward bloodied and the Sens defenceman suspended. The rhetoric in that series only escalated from there -- and now we'll have to see if a similar pattern follows after the Subban-Stone incident in Game 1 this year.