It was a scary scene in the last minute of Wednesday night’s Game 1 between the Jets and Canadiens.
With the Canadiens up 4-3, Jake Evans skated full steam down the ice, grabbed a loose puck and scored an empty-netter with 56.9 seconds left on the clock. Immediately after giving his team a two-goal lead, though, he got leveled by the Jets’ Mark Scheifele on a hard, high and unsuspecting hit.
Evans hit the ice hard and was down for a considerable amount of time. A number of medical professionals came out, including team doctors for both clubs. The 25-year-old forward — who actually hit the quarter-mark on Wednesday — was stretchered off but did give a thumbs up as he left the ice.
(Warning: This video may be disturbing to some viewers.)
Scheifele was given a five-minute major for charging and a 10-minute game misconduct.
After the game, Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said that Evans was still at Bell MTS Place and was being evaluated. Evans had not been transported to the hospital. Ducharme also called the hit “inutile” which, when translated from French, means useless.
Evans’ Game 1 goal was his first of the postseason. In 47 games this season, he has collected three goals and 13 points. He is now the second player to be stretchered off this postseason, as the Maple Leafs’ John Tavares took an accidental knee to the face from Canadiens forward Corey Perry back on May 20.
What happens next is up to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. They’ve handed out some fines and a few suspensions recently, including eight games to the Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri and, just the other day, two to the Golden Knights’ Ryan Reaves.
Here’s how players and coaches on both sides reacted to the hit:
— Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi: “I think it’s disgusting, no respect for the other players out there.”
— Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson: “Yeah, it was a dirty hit, but the league’s going to take care of it. If he gets back in the series, we’re going to make his life miserable, but I think the league’s going to do a good job with that.”
— Perry: “He didn’t say anything. He was just laying there. From what they said, he was moving, but it was a scary situation.”
— Ducharme: “You never want to see that, a player down on the ice like that. We went through that in Toronto with Tavares. He’s not a player in our uniform, but it’s an accident, and both sides want him to feel better. I didn’t feel that from the other side when it happened.”
— Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers: “Obviously I hope he’s OK. I came back and saw that he wasn’t looking good. When something like that happens, there tends to be a scrum. So I was just trying to keep everyone away from him. In a situation like that, you don’t want anyone falling on top of him. I was just trying to keep everyone away.”
— Jets captain Blake Wheeler: “Just hope he’s okay. . . . That’s the concern. It’s never good to see a guy on the ice for that amount of time and the stretcher out is scary. So we’re just hoping that he’s okay.”
— Jets coach Paul Maurice: “Well hopefully the young man is going to be all right. It’s such a highly unusual play because you’re backchecking back to kill an empty-net play. You’re coming full speed. When Mark stopped skating he kept his arms in. It’s a heavy, heavy hit. There’s no doubt about that. I’m sure the league will have its opinion.”