Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk bolted off the ice in the third period and never returned to Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Canadiens after catching Artturi Lehkonen’s skate blade to his face.
Attempting to battle through a screen in front of the Islanders’ net, Lehkonen fell forward, sending his skate up high enough to knick Boychuk square in the face. Boychuk, 36, squirmed on the ice for a few seconds before jumping to his feet and immediately heading to the locker room while holding his face.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz did not have an immediate update following the loss.
“I think he’ll be OK, but it doesn’t matter, it’s a scary situation,” team captain Anders Lee said. “You hate to see that happen. It happens quick, skate to the face. I think that’s where all our minds are right now for sure.”
Boychuk sustained a similar injury just a little over a year ago, when his neck was cut by Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner’s skate.
Cal Clutterbuck played his second game back with the Islanders since a 30-game absence due to taking a blade to the wrist that required surgery. Forward Casey Cizikas, however, missed a 10th straight game as he continues to recover from a leg laceration he sustained from a blade on Feb. 11 against the Flyers.
When asked how these types of injuries can be avoided, Clutterbuck said: “I don’t know, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it. I haven’t come up with a good answer yet. Just not fun to see that at all.”
Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss was pulled for the second time in his last three starts.
After giving up three goals on 12 shots in the first period, Trotz elected to swap in Semyon Varlamov. Greiss also was pulled Feb. 13 in Nashville after allowing three goals on eight shots.
“We were good in front of him and [Montreal] got some pretty good looks,” Trotz said. “I just felt that they had 11 shots and three goals, I just needed to change something there.”
The Islanders’ family grew Monday when Lee’s wife, Grace, gave birth to their first child, Ruby.
“It was the best day of my life,” said a beaming Lee, who took a personal day Monday to assist his wife. “Grace was unbelievable and Ruby is doing well. It was just a whirlwind from the moment she woke me up in the middle of the night.”