The Canadiens star defenceman, drawing inspiration from a vote of confidence from legend Jean Beliveau's wife Elise, responded with a goal and a solid 29:06 of ice time as Montreal downed the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in Game 2. Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner 3:40 into overtime.
Montreal retained home-ice advantage by winning its first two home games of the best-of-seven series. Ottawa will try to do the same in Game 3 on Sunday and Game 4 on Wednesday at the Canadian Tire Centre.
"I didn't play the whole first game and I wanted to be better," said Subban."I had to be.
"I don't think I did a good enough job of setting an example (to his teammates) in the first game."
Subban was tossed from the opener, a 4-3 Montreal win, in the second period with a slashing major and a game misconduct for a two-handed chop to the wrist of Senators scoring leader Mark Stone.
As he was standing around outside the dressing room after the ejection, Elise Beliveau passed by and told him not to worry, that he would be better in Game 2.
After the win, he said Mrs. Beliveau, whose husband's death in December was honoured with a state funeral, stood up in her seat behind the Canadiens bench and showed she was wearing a Subban No. 76 jersey.
"It's one of the cutest things I've ever seen,"said Subban. "It's good to know I have that support.
"You know what Jean Beliveau means to this organization — what he means to Canada."
Max Pacioretty returned after missing three games with a concussion to score Montreal's first goal.
Stone, diagnosed with a microfracture, responded by assisting on Ottawa's goals by Clarke MacArthur and Patrick Wiercioch despite limited use of his right wrist.
Ottawa goalie Andrew Hammond, shaky in the opener, bounced back with a solid effort as Montreal outshot the Senators 42-31.
"The reality is we're down two games and we have to find a way to win," said Ottawa coach Dave Cameron, whose team crept into the playoffs by going 22-4-4 down the stretch. "During our streak, we didn't look at how far we were back. We won. That's the focus now. To find a way to win."
He didn't blame the game-winner on Hammond, who was beaten when Ottawa failed to clear the puck and Galchenyuk jumped on it.
"It's great to get an OT goal," said Galchenyuk, who plowed over an official as he rushed to embrace Subban after it went in. "It's always nice to get one. But I don't sit around and think about that. Time will tell when you can rate those kinds of goals."
But this game, it was Subban who went in feeling the pressure, although neither team was looking for any more nasty incidents.
"I think of myself as a player who steps up in big games and makes a difference," said Subban. "I always felt that the more pressure people put on me the better I'll play. I wanted to be better tonight for my teammates."
The Senators came out hitting, throwing 21 checks in the first period alone, and got the lead.
Stone was in on the opening goal with a pass on a rush that saw MacArthur beat Carey Price with a dipping shot from the slot at 18:42.
The Canadiens adjusted to the Senators forechecking and caught them playing some loose hockey to turn the tables in the second, outshooting Ottawa 14-3, and taking the lead.
Pacioretty was parked in front to take a pass from David Desharnais and beat Hammond with low shot between the pads on a power play at 7:18.
Subban took a pass from Devante Smith-Pelly and blasted a rocket past Hammond at 16:30.
Stone made the pass again as Weircioch went to the net and got a shot between Price's pads on a power play at 13:25 of the third.
Notes — Tough guy Chris Neil was on hand in case Stone couldn't play. . . Montreal's P.A. Parenteau sat out with an upper-body injury.