The Capitals weren’t the only team to suffer an injury to a key player Friday. In fact, Tampa Bay could be in worse shape after losing winger Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina.
Although the Lightning wouldn’t comment on the specifics, it’s possible both sustained head injuries. As Coach Guy Boucher addressed the media immediately after the Lightning’s 4-2 victory at Verizon Center, Gagne and Kubina already were back at the team hotel.
Gagne’s condition was of particular concern given his long history of concussions.
“They will both be reevaluated tomorrow,” Boucher said. “We’ll see where we go from there.”
Gagne, who notched two goals and five assists in Tampa Bay’s seven-game victory over Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals, was pursuing the puck when he was checked into the corner boards by Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan. Gagne was upended and landed hard on his shoulder, neck and head in the first period and appeared stunned by the blow. The hit appeared to be clean and Hannan was not penalized.
As the Lightning veteran lay in the corner in obvious distress, a stretcher was rolled onto the ice. It was not needed, however, as Gagne left the rink with some assistance from Tampa Bay trainers. He did not return.
“The puck went into the corner, went both went in, and I hit him,” said Hannan, who tapped Gagne on his shin pad with his stick as the Bolt exited. “I didn’t even think it was that bad. I guess he fell on his shoulder and his head. You never want to see a guy get hurt like that.”
Boucher added: “You obviously don’t want to imagine the worst. The first thing that comes to mind isn’t, ‘I’ve lost a player.’ It’s, ‘I hope his health is okay.’ When you see the stretcher coming out, that’s not exactly what you want to see. Knowing that he’s fine now at the hotel. We’ll see tomorrow. But, at least, it’s a lot better of an outcome than it was looking like when he was on the ice.”
As for Kubina, he was injured when he was plastered along the end boards by Jason Chimera, who was assessed a roughing minor. Kubina returned to the bench briefly but did not play again.
After the game, Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau acknowledged that Chimera used his elbow.
“Initially, I didn’t think it was a penalty,” Boudreau said. “But whe you look at it on the replay, his elbow is up.”
Boucher, meantime, took a pass when asked for his thoughts on Chimera’s hit.
“I would love to answer that, but I’m going to answer like a politician,” he said. “The fact of the matter is I didn’t see it.”