Montreal winger Michael Cammalleri was ejected from the Canadiens' 7-2 win over the Islanders on Saturday night for a nasty slash to New York prospect Nino Niederreiter.
Cammalleri was handed a slashing major and a game misconduct at 16:52 of the second period and may face further discipline.
The two players bumped in the neutral zone and Cammalleri had his stick high as he shoved the 18-year-old. The two bumped again and then Cammalleri gave him a hard slash on the left skate.
Niederreiter, the fifth overall pick in the NHL draft in June, went down and later limped off the ice and did not return. After the game, he had an ice pack on a bruise on the back of his left knee. He said he hoped the injury was serious.
"It's preseason, there should never be a cheap shot like that," said Niederreiter. "He came from behind. I didn't expect it at all."
Dean Chynoweth, who acted as head coach while Scott Gordon led the Islanders' other split-squad in a 2-1 win at home against New Jersey, was also critical of the Canadiens' forward.
"It was a gutless play by Cammalleri," Chynoweth said."To stick someone in the face and two-hand him like that - be a man. Drop the stick. Drop the gloves."
Cammalleri was not made available to the media after the game.
Montreal's Tomas Plekanec said Niederreiter had been cross-checking Canadiens all game and "I guess it happened too many times. ... I got a couple of those cross-checks too. This guy was kind of running around doing this stuff. Hopefully they'll look at that, too."
Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said Cammalleri was blindsided before the incident "and that's what started it. ... But I don't think it was bad as it looked."
It was the second incident involving rookies for Montreal. Last week, the Florida Panthers vowed revenge for what they felt was a sucker punch by Canadiens winger Travis Moen on third-overall pick Erik Gudbranson.