Toronto captain John Tavares was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision early in Game 1 of the Maple Leafs’ first-round playoff matchup with the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
Tavares crashed into Montreal’s Ben Chiarot 10:29 into the first period and was hit in the head by Corey Perry’s knee as he fell. Trainers and doctors from both teams rushed to the ice and attended to the 30-year-old forward before he was taken away, encouraging him to stay on the ice as he struggled to get up.
Tavares gave a thumbs-up as he left on a stretcher. Toronto newcomer Nick Foligno then fought Perry immediately after the faceoff resuming play.
Tavares had 50 points on 19 goals and 31 assists during the shortened, 56-game season. Tavares was playing his 907th NHL game, the first 693 of which were with the New York Islanders.
Tavares left the Islanders to sign with his boyhood team in 2018, hoping to bring the Stanley Cup to Toronto for the first time since 1967. The Maple Leafs finished first in the all-Canadian North Division to earn the first seed in the playoffs.
The Maple Leafs and Canadiens are facing off in a playoff series for the first time since 1979.