TAMPA — It was a terrifying moment Tuesday night when Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk took a skate blade to the face from Canadiens wing Artturi Lehkonen.
Lehkonen tripped and fell, and his right skate grazed the side of Boychuk’s face near his right eye.
Boychuk immediately dropped his stick and fell to the ice, grabbing the eye and writhing in pain. He stood up on his own seconds later, skated to the exit door and sprinted down the tunnel.
(WARNING: This video is graphic.)
Boychuk needed 90 stitches over the eyelid and a plastic surgeon to repair the injury. The skate missed his eyeball, and the Islanders have said he’ll be fine. He thanked his Twitter followers Wednesday for their positive words and well wishes. He was doubtful for Thursday’s game in Ottawa.
Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk couldn’t believe it when he saw the replay of what happened, calling the aftermath “nuts.”
“It’s scary,” he said. “Unfortunately I don’t think a lot of us think about that happening until it actually does. Just glad to hear there wasn’t any damage to his eye and he just needed stitches.”
Shattenkirk hasn’t seen anyone take a skate to the face in person, but in high school he saw a player take a skate to the neck. EMTs were on-site, and the was taken to a hospital.
“It’s something that can happen at all levels,” he said. “But it’s part of the game.”
Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn saw the replay of Boychuk’s injury. Schenn can’t imagine what 90 stitches looks like right now but said Boychuk is lucky his eye wasn’t damaged.
“It’s your worst nightmare,” he said. “It’s a freak accident, but you see it (in the league). It’s like someone taking a knife and running it across your face pretty much.”
Last month saw two other skate-related injuries in the league. Islanders forward Casey Cizikas was cut on his left leg in a game against the Flyers and is still out. Red Wings forward Brendan Perlini took a skate to the face in a game against the Sabres and needed stitches along the outer part of his nose. He also had bruising around his right eye. He has played since.