It was a fairly uneventful return to Toronto for Mikhail Grabovski until late in the second period when, with eight seconds left, in a freak accident he suffered facial cuts from the skate of David Clarkson.
Grabovski had been working to maintain control of the puck along the boards in the offensive zone when he fell and Clarkson’s right skate hit him near his right eye as the Toronto winger skated in the opposite direction.
Washington’s center lay on the ice, holding his head in his hands until there was a whistle when he got up and went immediately down the visitors’ tunnel. There was blood visible on the ice, evidence that Grabovski had been cut, but the Toronto faithful at the Air Canada Centre booed loudly when he popped up the moment the play was whistled dead.
Fortunately for Grabovski, he suffered no significant damage and after receiving 20 stitches to close the two wounds the 29-year-old returned to the game in the third period.
“I think it’s a little bit of my fault because I hold the puck too long,” Grabovski said after the game.
Grabovski finished with 16:18 of ice time against his former team and recorded two shots on goal, skating with Troy Brouwer and Eric Fehr on the second line. But it was his injury and return, with a shift just over 6 minutes into the third period that made this night more than a routine one for Grabovski.
“He’s a warrior. Of course he wants to play out there,” Alex Ovechkin said. “Very scary for him second period, end of the second period got skate on the face and [he] came back and have good chance to score in the third.”
Said Braden Holtby: “He doesn’t get enough credit for how tough he is. He battles through a lot, he fights hard through every game works as hard as anyone on our team. It’s great to see he didn’t get hurt too bad. Good to see he came back.”