There was a scary scene at the Bell Centre Saturday night as the Canadiens’ Phillip Danault was taken off the ice on a stretcher after taking a slapshot from the Boston Bruins’ Zdeno Chara in the head.
With 1:37 remaining in the second period, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Chara wound up and blasted a shot from the blue line. Danault, who was standing at the top of the faceoff circle, turned his head slightly and took a direct hit on the right side of his head off his helmet. Danault fell to the ice and appeared to be unconscious as Graham Rynbend, the Canadiens’ head athletic therapist, rushed onto the ice to tend to him.
Hockey Night in Canada on CBC and Sportsnet reported Chara’s shot was clocked at 123 km/h. Chara holds the record for hardest shot ever at the NHL All-Star Skills competition with a 108.8-mph blast (175 km/h) in 2012.
After spending several minutes down on the ice, Danault tried to get up to his knees but couldn’t. A stretcher was called for and a full medical team was quickly on the ice. Danault was put on a backboard and then a stretcher and taken off the ice as fans at the Bell Centre chanted “Da-nault! Da-nault!”
The Canadiens announced at 9:21 p.m. that Danault had indeed suffered a head injury and was taken to a hospital for further exams. He was awake and moving. After the game, coach Claude Julien said the early reports from the hospital were good and that Danault would be kept overnight and be re-evaluated in the morning.
The game was halted after Danault was injured and the teams went to their locker rooms with the remaining 1:37 of the second period added to the start of the third period.
The score was tied 3-3 at the time of Danault’s injury and the Bruins went on to win 4-3 in a shootout. Max Pacioretty, Nicolas Deslauriers and Alex Galchenyuk scored for the Canadiens in regulation time, while the Bruins got goals from Brad Marchand, Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci. Marchand scored the winner in the shootout.
Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said after the game that he wasn’t certain if Danault was knocked out by Chara’s slapshot.
“You were thinking pretty positively and then you saw some blood and then you get a little bit shaken up,” Pacioretty said about his reaction when Danault tried to get up.
“I didn’t see the replay of the shot, but I thought the blood was on the back there (of his head) but I could be wrong. It looked like that’s what he was holding with the towels, but I could be wrong about that. We’re just worried for our friend, but hopefully he’s OK.”
Chara looked visibly shaken while Danault was down on the ice. The Bruins captain skated up to the stretcher and appeared to speak to Danault before he was taken off the ice.
“I wanted to be there,” Chara told Sportsnet’s Eric Engels after the game. “Obviously, I wanted to talk to him. I felt bad, obviously, that he got hit. I wanted to make sure he was OK and he was responding. You gotta obviously focus on the game and worry about it after the game.”
“Just hoping he’s not hurt,” Chara added. “That’s all you see, the first thing that goes through your mind. Hopefully he’s not hurt.”
It’s not the first time Chara has been involved in a scary play at the Bell Centre. During a game on March 8, 2011, Chara checked Pacioretty hard into a stanchion between the bench areas, knocking the Canadiens captain unconscious and he was taken off on the ice on a stretcher with a concussion and a fractured cervical vertebra in his neck that ended his season.
Classy move by Zdeno Chara to stay out and make sure Phillip Danault was okay after injuring him with a shot. Most players left ice before Danault was stretchered off pic.twitter.com/u459oT95nN
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 14, 2018