The Montreal defenceman's second goal of the game, which came at 17:59 of the second period after serving a holding call, proved to be the game winner as the Canadiens downed the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in a freewheeling contest on Saturday night.
The Canadiens are off to a 5-1-0 start to the campaign despite first-pairing defenceman Subban having already taken seven minor penalties.
"I was still ticked off that I took a penalty," Subban said. "I'm taking penalties every game.
"It's fine now, we're winning, but I've got to stay out of the box. It's great to get the goal, but if you're going to be a leader on the team, you have to set the example. I haven't done a good job of that. But I'm obviously happy to get the goal."
Alex Galchenyuk had a goal and an assist for Montreal, which put 36 shots on Colorado's 22-year-old goalie Calvin Pickard, who was making his first NHL start.
Alex Tanguay and Matt Duchene scored for Colorado (1-4-1), which ended a four-game road trip with a 1-2-1 record.
When Subban left the box, he collected a pass from Lars Eller and skated around the Colorado net, only to see defenceman Tyson Barrie fall. That left Montreal's highest paid player time to move in front, put two moves on Pickard and slide the puck in.
"I was looking for Lars," said Subban. "I knew he was coming, but the defenceman had taken him out.
"I was really in tight on the goal. I tried to make a move and hopefully, he'd bite on it. Before I knew it I had an open net and just put it in. But like I said, I probably don't want to be putting myself in that position of being in the box that many times."
Colorado coach Patrick Roy saw the goal from another angle and felt it shouldn't have happened.
"Especially on the one where Tyson lost his edge, I think Nick Holden should have looked where Subban was instead of turning his back," said Roy. "There's a few one-on-twos we didn't play that well. On the one where (Marc-Andre) Cliche took a penalty, Tyson should have been in better position."
It was the second Montreal goal from a player coming out of the box. At 11:23 of the second, Galchenyuk checked the puck off Nathan MacKinnon while leaving the sin bin and then was sent in alone by Brandon Prust to score.
Duchene, who had 10 shots on goal and also hit a crossbar during a first-period power play, closed the gap to one goal when he reached out to deflect a Jarome Iginla shot between Carey Price's pads with 2:31 left in the third. But the Avalanche were unable to get the equalizer.
It was a big game for both goalies, especially Pickard, who was called up from the American Hockey League's Lake Erie Monsters this week after No. 1 Semyon Varlamov aggravated a groin injury and then backup Reto Berra got injured Thursday in Ottawa. The Avs wasted a 3-1 lead when Pickard took over against the Senators to lose 5-3, but he was solid in Montreal.
"We had a lot of confidence in him," said Roy. "We didn't show any panic in our decisions.
"He's the reason we had a chance to come back in that game. I thought both goaltenders were outstanding. Carey Price made several good saves. In the second period, we calculated we had 10 good scoring chances and out of 10, seven of them missed the net. We have to make the goalie work a little more. At least put the pucks on the net."
Pickard, a Winnipeg native drafted in the second round by Colorado in 2010, was in a tough building for his NHL debut.
"It was crazy," he said. "Playing at the Bell Centre, coming out to that music.
"You watch it on TV all the time. It's special. And to be in the net starting at the other end against Carey Price, it's a pretty cool feeling. It was a good experience for me, but not the result we wanted."
As for going one-on-one with Subban, Pickard said: "You see him on TV all the time. He's a special talent, and you saw that on the third goal. He dangled me pretty good."
Even with his third stringer in goal, Roy did not abandoned his open, offensive style and it made for an entertaining, end-to-end game.
Colorado took the lead 2:23 in on a give-and-go on a rush as John Mitchell dropped a pass to Tanguay for a shot into an open side.
Pickard stopped his first 20 shots, but the Canadiens scored three times on the next eight, starting with Subban's goal on a blast from the left point on a power play at 4:13 of the second period.
Notes — The Canadiens sat out Dale Weise and Nathan Beaulieu for a second straight game. . . Canadiens equipment manager Pierre Gervais was honoured pre-game for his 2,500th game. He also worked for Team Canada at the Olympics. He was presented with a jersey with the number 2,500 on the back . . Sami Aittokallio, recalled Friday from Lake Erie, backed up Pickard. Roy said this week that Varlamov's groin injury does not appear to be long term, although he is on injured reserve.