Canadiens drop Jackets, but questions linger over use of concussion protocol

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien's team had just come off an exciting win, but like for some of his counterparts in the NFL, many of the questions after the game surrounded whether team doctors had followed concussion protocol.

Captain Max Pacioretty gave Montreal a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets when he scored on a power play late in the third period Tuesday night.

Midway through the second, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno dropped the gloves, and Foligno landed a particularly hard punch in Beaulieu's face. Although Beaulieu's knees buckled, he did not go to the dressing room to be checked by the team's medical staff. Instead, he headed straight to the penalty box for the rest of the period. He returned to the ice after the second intermission and played 7:04 of the third.

"The doctors said he passed the [concussion] protocol between the second and third periods. Everything was fine," Therrien said. "If he wasn't feeling well, he wouldn't have gone [to the penalty box]. He felt very good, and then we followed up."

Beaulieu did not speak to the media after the game. A team official said he was in the medical room.

The NFL has been dealing with questions about protocols to identify players who have concussions. The NFL questioned whether the procedure was followed for St. Louis Rams quarterback Case Keenum two weeks ago, when it seemed he came up unsteady after a hard hit but he was not removed from the game.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger removed himself from Sunday's loss at the Seahawks, saying he had possible symptoms. He appeared to be injured midway through the fourth quarter after a hit and needed to be helped to his feet, but he remained in for the remainder of the 14-play drive.

Beaulieu's hit came with the score tied at 1. Foligno knocked Tomas Fleischmann into the boards with a knee-on-knee hit at 10:56 of the second.

"Beaulieu is a great teammate," Pacioretty said. "It's the heat of the moment, and he wants to stick up for his teammate. That earns a lot of respect in the room."

Mike Condon got the start in place of injured Carey Price, who is expected to miss at least six weeks with a lower-body injury. He stopped 22 shots for his ninth win.

Paul Byron scored his third goal for the Canadiens 2:51 into the game. Foligno tied it at 17:23 of the first. It stayed that way until Pacioretty, with Scott Hartnell in the box for tripping, scored his team-leading 13th goal at 17:51 of the third.

Montreal has won six of its past seven against Columbus.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves for Columbus.

Byron gave Montreal an early lead when he raced to the front of the net and tipped in a cross-ice pass by Christian Thomas past Bobrovsky. Foligno tied it with a back-handed wrap-around goal after Condon got caught too far out of his net.

Defenseman Alexei Emelin's night ended early after a late hit on Matt Calvert earned him a five-minute major and a game misconduct at 17:57 of the first.

The puck was nowhere near Calvert when Emelin raised his shoulder and knocked the Columbus winger down in open ice. Calvert spent several minutes on his knees before going to the dressing room. He was back on the ice for the second period.

Columbus failed to score on the five-minute power play.

"It was so much of a blind side, I don't even know if it was a head shot," said Calvert, who was back on the ice for the second period. "I was ready to back-check, and next thing I know, I was looking down the ice. It was at the end of the period, so I had 15 minutes to regroup and figure out where I am again."

Game notes

Montreal's Michel Therrien coached his 700th NHL game. ... Brandon Dubinsky was back in the Columbus lineup after serving a one-game suspension for his hit on the Penguins' Sidney Crosby.