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Habs defenceman Gonchar day-to-day after hit from Toronto's Clarkson

02/15/2015 12:27 EST | Updated 04/16/2015 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - The Montreal Canadiens picked up two points on Saturday by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in a shootout.

But they had to do it without defenceman Sergei Gonchar, who left with an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return after a questionable hit from Toronto's David Clarkson.

The 40-year-old blue-liner was playing a loose puck behind Carey Price's net when Clarkson pushed him with both hands into the boards. Gonchar fell awkwardly and remained on his knees for several seconds.

Clarkson, who was assessed a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct for the hit, didn't feel the hit was dirty and was even surprised to be sent to the dressing room early.

"I haven't seen it, but I think I got him in the shoulder," said Clarkson. "You don't like to see a guy go in awkwardly. I'm not sure of much more than that. I was just finishing my check.

"I didn't know I was kicked out."

After the hit, defenceman Nathan Beaulieu dropped the gloves and exchanged punches with Clarkson. Gonchar watched the fight from his knees before skating off the ice on his own.

"It was a tough play," said Beaulieu, who plays on a defensive pairing with Gonchar. "The puck was in a weird spot. It kind of stuck on the wall. I didn't like the hit. I was just the guy there. Anyone on this team would have done the same thing.

"There's a little special bond between me and Gonchar. He's taken care of me since I've been up, so it was good that I could do that for him. He's been so good to me so far."

Clarkson was given a five-minute major for fighting Beaulieu and wound up with 20 minutes in penalties on the play. He finished the game 27 penalty minutes in just 2:31 of ice time after dropping the gloves with Brandon Prust earlier in the period. Beaulieu went to the box for 17 minutes — two for instigating the fight, five for fighting and 10 minutes for misconduct.

The injury to Gonchar and penalties to Beaulieu meant Montreal played with four defencemen until late in the second period. Beaulieu came back on the ice at 15:47.

The brunt of the extra work went to Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban, who each logged their largest amount of ice time in years. Subban played the first four minutes of the second period and finished the game with 35:21 of ice time. Markov played 31:57.

"I just go out there and do my job, whether it's for five minutes or 35 minutes," said Subban. "Today they asked a little more of me.

"I feel great. I don't think there was a time out there when I felt tired. I just felt in the game. The more I play, the more I'm into the game and engaged."

Maple Leafs head coach Peter Horachek said he was surprised Clarkson was kicked out of the game and isn't expecting any supplementary discipline from the NHL.

"From my viewpoint it looked like his first contact was on the shoulder," said Horachek. "That turned him. Maybe he's going hard, but he was coasting. I thought it was a good hit.

"(The officials) thought it was dangerous, that he was going fast. Those are the calls they have to make. It's a fast game, and it was a quick situation."

Daniel Winnik scored the opener for the Leafs at 11:19 of the first period before Brendan Gallagher poked home the equalizer 41 seconds later. David Desharnais scored the winner in the shootout.

Notes: The Maple Leafs are 0-11-2 in their last 13 road games. … Montreal is 8-0-3 this season when the score is tied after two periods. … Vice president of NHL player safety Stephane Quintal was in attendance at the Bell Centre.

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