SUNRISE, Fla. — With the Capitals clinging to a one-goal lead in the third period, they found themselves down a man with 10:38 left in the game after an interference minor charged to Nate Schmidt. The ensuing penalty kill for Washington was a significant one, and during the man-down situation, Daniel Winnik made a desperate slide across the ice to block a Florida Panthers shot.
The shot was at eye level, and Winnik turned his head at the last second to minimize the potential damage of the oncoming missile. The puck hit Winnik in the helmet, and considering Winnik is the only Washington player who doesn’t wear a visor, he was fortunate he wasn’t seriously injured. Winnik was down on the ice in pain for several seconds before being tended to by head athletic trainer Greg Smith. He then went back to the locker room on his own power and then later returned to the game, which the Capitals won, 4-2.
But after the game, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz nonchalantly explained that Winnik wasn’t entirely unscathed.
“You didn’t know what was going to happen, and really, he got the puck sort of in the ear hole and it sort of pinched off his ear,” Trotz said. “Trainers looked at him, and he was fine, just missing a piece of his ear. It got chewed up a bit. It’s just a small piece, but it got chewed up.”
In 2012, an Alex Ovechkin practice shot deflected off the glass and caromed into Matt Hendricks’s head, splitting open his ear.