Dan Girardi stood to block a blast, turned his head to the left and was hit above the shoulders by the puck.
He scored and assisted on a goal in the first period before leaving the game in the second period of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night.
“That was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “But Dan can still take it in stride and have light-hearted comments about it.”
Detroit’s Martin Frk took a shot on a power play and his one-timer appeared to hit Girardi in the neck. The defenseman lay face down on the ice while a doctor evaluated him on the ice and was eventually able to sit up. Girardi later skated slowly off the ice with teammates at his side and walked toward the dressing room.
“Hopefully everything is going to be OK,” Cooper said. “He’s just got to get a few tests here.”
The game was very physical before Girardi went down with two fights, open-ice hits, checks into the boards along with a lot of pushing and shoving. When Girardi got up, players from both teams tapped their sticks on the ice and against the boards and the game was suddenly played without much contact.
“You don’t even think about what team a guy is on after something like that,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Your entire focus is on how he’s doing.”
Girardi assisted on Tyler Johnson’s goal that put Tampa Bay up 2-0. Yanni Gourde and Nikita Kucherov restored two-goal leads in the second and third periods. Gourde added a second goal of the night late in the game, putting the Lightning ahead 5-2.
Louis Domingue stopped 34 shots for the NHL-leading Lightning, who avoided losing three straight for the first time this season.
“We had to make a push because we weren’t happy with the last couple games,” Johnson said. “We wanted to get off to a good start.”
Cooper was proud of his team’s effort, ending a five-game road trip with back-to-back games.
“This was an easy one to mail in,” he said.
Gustav Nyquist and Justin Abdelkader scored in the second and third period to pull the Red Wings within a goal, but they didn’t come close to extending their season-high, four-game winning streak.
“We’re optimistic in here,” Nyquist insisted. “We talked about it here the last couple weeks. I think we all think that we’re a better team at this point this year than we were last year.”
Detroit’s Petr Mrazek made 19 saves, filling in for Jimmy Howard, who was out with a lower-body injury.