The opening period of the Lightning-Capitals series had a scary turn, as just over seven minutes into the contest, Tampa Bay forward Simon Gagne was left motionless on the ice after a hit by Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan.
Gagne skated into the corner of the Capitals’ zone, and was hit by Hannan into the boards, with Gagne being raised up into the glass by the force of the check. Gagne then fell back to the ice awkwardly, and fell still as the Lightning trainers rushed onto the ice as the sellout crowd at Verizon Center was hushed.
Gagne eventually sat up and was able to skate off the ice with help, as the fans gave him a round of applause and players tapped their sticks on the ice.
Lightning coach Guy Boucher said afterward that Gagne was going to be re-evaluated Saturday, and that he was resting at the team hotel.
“You obviously don’t want to imagine the worst,” Boucher said. “The first thing that comes to mind is not about the player, but that hope his health is OK. You see the stretcher coming out, that’s not good.
“It was a lot better outcome than he looked like laying on the ice for sure.”
Hannan, who played with Gagne for Canada at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, went over to check on Gagne as the players tapped their sticks as he left the ice.
“It was a play where the puck went into the corner and we both went in and I hit him and I didn’t even think it was that bad,” Hannan said. “I guess he fell on his shoulder or his head. You never wanna see a guy get hurt like that.”
Gagne, who suffered three concussions during the 2007-08 season with Philadelphia, was alert and awake once he got to the Lightning locker room and was able to contact his wife. But his history had Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman thinking about his player’s safety.
“It’s a concern, for sure,” Yzerman said. “A real concern.”
If Gagne is lost for an extended period of time, the Lightning will be without a player with a history of success against the Capitals, recording 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists) in 38 career games against Washington with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. Gagne also recorded two goals and five assists in the Lightning’s seven-game series victory over Pittsburgh.
Tampa Bay also suffered another injury, as defenseman Pavel Kubina left the game late in the second period after a hit by Jason Chimera. Kubina — one of the members of Tampa Bay’s 2004 Stanley Cup team — was resting at the team hotel and also will be re-evaluated Saturday.
Boucher said he hadn’t gotten a chance to review Chimera’s hit, but would do so.
Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.