New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello said on Monday that he sustained a fractured skull and brain contusion that prevented him from speaking for three days after taking a puck to the head in Game 5 of the Rangers’ first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
During exit interviews with New York media, Zuccarello provided the most specific details since he sustained the injuries on April 24. At the time, the Rangers said Zuccarello had an upper-body injury but provided no further details.
During Game 5, Zuccarello was struck in the head by a slapshot from teammate Ryan McDonagh in the first period. After the puck hit his helmet, Zuccarello held his head and immediately skated toward the Rangers bench as play continued. He then headed into the locker room.
On Monday, Zuccarello told reporters that imaging on his brain shows "resolution," but he is not completely healed. He is expected to make a full recovery.
"I don’t know what you guys know, but there was a small fracture in my head," Zuccarello said, according to the New York Daily News. "I lost my talking and some feeling in my arm and stuff. I was in the hospital for three days. I couldn’t talk for a while. I had a contusion, some blood in my brain. That affects a lot. I went to speech therapy. I’m getting much better. I couldn’t say a word for four days... I feel much better and I’m getting better and better."
Zuccarello added that there was a "small chance" he might’ve played had the Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Finals. The Tampa Bay Lightning eliminated the Rangers from the Eastern Conference finals in seven games.
- Mike Fiammetta