After watching the past four games from the bench, Henrik Lundqvist made his return to the New York Rangers’ net on Thursday night, and the veteran netminder got a rude welcome back from Dallas Stars center Cody Eakin.
Midway through the first frame of the game, Lundqvist, in his first game since Dec. 6, found himself behind his net to corral a puck that had been dumped in by the Stars in the midst of a penalty kill. While Lundqvist awaited a suitable passing option, Eakin came charging down the right wing, cut around the net and just as ‘King Henrik’ went to move the puck, he was absolutely blown up by Eakin.
The hit sent Lundqvist’s helmet flying before he crashed to the ice and the play was dead shortly thereafter as he struggled to his feet. Rangers’ medical staff rushed onto the ice as the linesmen pulled Eakin aside so as to stop fists from flying as New York rushed to defense of their goaltender:
There’s not a whole lot to say about the hit in defense of Eakin. He charged around the corner, the hit caught Lundqvist high on his body and it’s not as if Eakin tried to avoid making contact with the Rangers’ netminder. Rightfully, Eakin was assessed a major penalty for charging and handed a game misconduct.
Thankfully for Lundqvist, and for the Rangers, the massive hit from Eakin only forced Lundqvist out of the game temporarily. He returned to action late in the first frame, likely after undergoing concussion protocol.
There’s certainly a chance this won’t be the last we hear of this incident, as the league could choose to take a look at Eakin’s hit, especially given that it warranted a major penalty. Though it won’t impact whether or not the Department of Player Safety deems the hit worthy of a suspension, it will help Eakin’s case that he has no rapsheet with the league and Lundqvist was able to return to the game.
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