Jason Chimera had just made a backhand pass in the neutral zone when Florida Panthers defenseman Tyson Strachan delivered a blindside hit to the veteran forward’s head.
Chimera, 33, crumpled to the ice with 8 minutes, 57 seconds gone in the second period of the Capitals’ 7-1 win over Florida on Thursday night and immediately went to the dressing room. Strachan led with his left shoulder and elbow; Chimera was defenseless.
“I did not see it during the game. I saw the replay, and it’s one of those things. A guy’s not looking at you and it really didn’t have any effect on the play,” defenseman Steve Oleksy said. “It’s tough as a player, but you’ve got to try to find a way to get out of the way on that play. You know a guy’s vulnerable when you’re coming across there and you’ve got to try to make an effort to get out of the way.”
After missing roughly five minutes to be tended to by Washington’s medical staff, Chimera returned to the game and skated another nine shifts. Chimera wasn’t made available to reporters after the game, but Coach Adam Oates said the forward escaped significant harm.
“I think it’s a little late. I do,” Oates said of the hit. “I’m glad Chimer’s OK, [that’s] the most important thing.”
Strachan received a five-minute major penalty for interference and a game misconduct. Given that it was a blindside hit with the head as the principle point of contact, it’s likely Strachan will face a suspension for the hit.
“To me it looked like it was an elbow, once I saw the replay,” Matt Hendricks said. “It looked like Jason was looking up ice to see where the puck went, and Strachan came through with what looked like could have been a clean hit, but I think he got his elbow up high.”