Winnipeg Jets rookie sensation Patrik Laine is only half of a season into his NHL career, but he’s already known for getting into the highlight reel with his goal-scoring prowess (even one on his own net).
Early on in Saturday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres was business as usual at first. Laine fed linemate Nikolaj Ehlers with a pass two-on-one and he beat a sprawling Sabres goalie Robin Lehner to open the game’s scoring
But it was what happened midway through the third period that has everyone talking.
With just under six minutes gone in the final frame, just as Laine accepted a pass from teammate Mark Scheifele at center ice, Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe lined up the 18-year-old Finn with a big open-ice hit. Laine fell flat on his back and Scheifele attacked McCabe in retaliation. The two teams roughed it up a bit after the hit, but only Scheifele was assessed a roughing penalty. McCabe was not penalized for the hit.
Laine left the game and didn’t return. Afterward, Jets coach Paul Maurice offered no update on the rookie’s health status. However, Laine was able to walk out of the arena on his own.
Maurice confirmed Sunday afternoon that Laine has a concussion.
Even though the collision knocked Laine out of the game for the rest of the afternoon, all parties agreed it was a clean hit.
"It looked OK," Jets captain Blake Wheeler told NHL.com. "Caught him in a bad spot and, like I said, hoping for the best."
"As clean as you can get," said Sabres captain Brian Gionta. "Obviously you don't want to see anyone get hurt. I don't care if he's on your team or not."
While the hit may have been clean, McCabe’s face didn’t come out that way. The Buffalo defenseman needed stitches above and below his eye, damage he says came from the hit itself and not from Scheifele’s punches.
Lost in the McCabe-Laine hit chatter was that Buffalo scored three times in the third period to come back and win the game, 4-3. Things got nasty again at the end, with Lehner and Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien in the middle of it.