OTTAWA - There's no telling what Steve Downie did to his chances of making the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, but it's a certainty that he won no friends on the Ottawa Senators.
The 20-year-old prospect knocked Senators centre Dean McAmmond out of the game with a concussion following a vicious second-period hit that sparked a melee and led to the Ottawa veteran being wheeled from the Scotiabank Place ice on a stretcher.
"It was a cheap shot. There's no part in the game for hits like that," said Senators right-winger Brian McGrattan, who was ejected from the Senators' 4-2 exhibition victory after he sought justice on the offending Downie. "A guy can't defend himself and you take a 40-foot run and jump and hit him. Hopefully the league takes a look at it. Those are the hits we don't want in our game.
"You don't want to see stuff like that. We're not out there to kill each other."
McGrattan later went on to issue a warning.
"He'll get what's coming to him," said McGrattan. "He'll do it to the wrong guy and somebody will put him out of hockey. You do that at his level a couple of times, guys in junior won't do it, but guys at this level will.
"He'll get what's coming to him next time we play him, that's for sure."
The Flyers were leading 2-1 when, at the 2:39 mark of the second, Downie skated the length of the ice and took a run at McAmmond, who had just released the puck while circling behind the Flyers' net and was met by Downie coming around the other side. Downie also appeared to leave his feet as he flattened the veteran.
The jarring hit came moments after Downie been checked into the glass by Ottawa's Christoph Schubert in the Senators' zone.
Downie gained a reputation at the junior level for some nasty play, but the Newmarket, Ont., native said Tuesday's hit wasn't pre-meditated, nor did he intend to go for McAmmond's head.
"I didn't mean to hurt him and I hope he's OK," Downie said. "My game's to hit and to finish the check. I'm just trying to earn a spot on the roster. It's part of my game and I apologize for him getting hurt.
"I thought I got him clean. Once we hit the boards after, I asked if he was OK."
With McAmmond laying motionless on the ice, Schubert and McGrattan jumped the Ontario Hockey League graduate, with Philadelphia's Jesse Boulerice joining in followed by the rest of the players.
Senators right-winger Patrick Eaves rushed to the far end of the rink to assist paramedics in getting a stretcher to McAmmond, who was also knocked out by a hit from Anaheim's Chris Pronger in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final in June.
With the crowd of 18,053 standing in near silence, McAmmond was taken off the ice by paramedics under the watch of Senators team doctor Don Chow. A team spokesman said he was taken to hospital for further examination.
Downie received a match penalty - which means an automatic and indefinite suspension pending a review - while Boulerice and McGrattan received fighting majors. McGrattan also was given 10-minute and game misconducts.
While Flyers coach John Stevens said he didn't see the hit, Senators coach John Paddock called the situation "interesting."
"I don't know what they can do with a player who is probably going to be in the minors, but it was one of those totally unnecessary (hits)," Paddock said. "He left his feet and everyone knows his reputation.
"I think he did it because Schubert got him with a clean hit inside the blue-line and (Anton Volchenkov) got him in the first period. He's trying to make his name or place, whatever. But it was bad, that hit."
When play resumed, Joe Corvo tied the game on Ottawa's ensuing five-minute major and Jason Spezza scored the go-ahead goal on a power play late in the second.
Daniel Alfredsson, while shorthanded, and Shean Donovan had the other goals for the Senators, who improved to 5-0-0 in pre-season play.
Stefan Ruzicka had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who allowed a pair of leads to slip away, while Joffrey Lupul also scored. Philadelphia's exhibition record fell to 2-3-0.
The incident overshadowed the return of Senators No. 1 goaltender Ray Emery, who was seeing game action for the first time since undergoing off-season wrist surgery to repair torn cartilage in his catching hand.
Emery, who wasn't expected to be ready to play this early after only taking part in full practice for less than a week, got off to a slow start when was beaten on just the second shot he faced.
He played two periods before making way for Martin Gerber and stopped seven of the nine shots he faced. Both goals he gave up were to his glove side.
"Warm-up was the toughest thing I've done since the finals last year. I really haven't seen pucks," Emery said. "I've skated, but when it's been pucks, it's been kind of shoot low or don't shoot at my hand.
"It was kind of a stride in the right direction for me, but I definitely have a way to go."
Antero Niittymaki stopped 20 of 22 shots for Philadelphia before he left with the score tied at 2-2.
Gerber finished with 10 saves the rest of the way for the Senators, while Niittymaki's replacement Brian Boucher stopped 12 of the 14 shots he faced.