The NHL's regular season is a bruising grind, but the playoffs have been described as eight weeks of war, a holy crusade in which players willingly endure astounding amounts of punishment and pain for a chance to raise the sacred Stanley Cup. Boston's Gregory Campbell had his right leg broken by a slap shot in Game 3 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, but managed to get back on his feet and stay on the ice for nearly a minute, skating on his good leg while trying to help his team kill off a Pittsburgh power play. Campbell was lost for the rest of the playoffs, but his sacrifice and effort inspired his teammates to win the game, and he earned a place in hockey lore.
2 of 15Gene J. Puskar/AP
After his Achilles tendon was sliced 70 percent by a skate blade on Feb. 13, 2013, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson wasn't expected to play again until the next season. Almost miraculously, he was back in action in time for the playoffs in which his team upset Montreal in the first round before falling to Pittsburgh. Though not at 100 percent, Karlsson still routinely logged more than 25 minutes of ice time per game while producing a goal and seven assists in 10 games.
3 of 15Gene J. Puskar
Already with a history of concussion problems, Pittsburgh's captain took a slap shot to the jaw on March 30, 2013, suffering the kind of injury that even the toughest players dread. Crosby's jaw was broken and he lost a bunch of teeth, two of which damaged the inside of his mouth upon impact. Surgeons inserted screws and titanium plates to help the jaw heal. Crosby lost weight during his liquid diet layoff but returned for the playoffs...and took another puck to the face in the first round against the New York Islanders. Undaunted, he eventually abandoned his protective face shield for the Penguins' Eastern final series vs. Boston. By then he'd put up 15 points in 10 games.
4 of 15Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Washington's star sniper played Games 6 and 7 of the Capitals' 2013 first-round series against the New York Rangers with a fracture in his left foot. The injury, likely sustained when Ovechkin blocked a shot in the first period of Game 6, wasn't revealed until after the Caps had been eliminated. He played a total of 19:03 and 19:08 in the two games respectively, taking six shots and dishing out 16 hits. After the series, he was off play for Russia in the World Championship.
5 of 15David E. Klutho/SI
Although his team fell short against the Canucks in the 2011 Western Conference finals, you couldn't blame Sharks captain Joe Thornton for a lack of effort. The 14-year NHL veteran played in Game 5 despite the fact that he had suffered a separated shoulder two nights before. He also had a broken pinkie. His determination didn't quite translate into results, though, as he went minus-2 in what became San Jose's final game of the season. "Obviously, that's a very courageous game for him to play," Sharks coach Todd McLellan told reporters. "It was very painful. Our training staff and doctors did a tremendous job in preparing him to play. Like I had mentioned to you before, when he comes and tells you he's playing, he's playing." Thornton needed surgery for both injuries.
6 of 15AP
In the second period of Game 4 of the 2010 Western Conference Finals, the Blackhawks' defenseman took a puck to the mouth and spat out seven teeth. The Hawks' medical staff stopped the bleeding and removed tooth fragments before Keith returned to help his team complete its four-game sweep of San Jose. He and the Hawks ultimately went on to win the Stanley Cup Final.
7 of 15Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
In Game 5 of the Flyers' 2010 first-round series vs. New Jersey, Laperriere dropped to block a slap shot and was hit in the head by the puck. (The video of the play is not for the faint of heart.) He needed 60-70 stitches to close his wound and suffered a concussion and fractured orbital bone. But he made it back in time to play in another eight games as the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final where they lost to Chicago. By training camp the following September, Laperriere was still feeling the effects of his injury and he ultimately decided to retire.
8 of 15Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Malone (middle) played through a broken nose in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final -- twice. Detroit's hard-hitting defenseman Niklas Kronwall first broke the winger's schnozz with a check in Game 1, but Malone was back in the lineup for Game 2. A week later, teammate Hal Gill hit him in the face with a Game 5 slap shot. Suffering another break and a large gash on his cheek, Malone nevertheless returned to the ice the following period.
9 of 15V.J. Lovero/SI
The Ducks' diminutive winger was knocked flat by a hit from Scott Stevens, the Devils' notoriously punishing defenseman, during the second period of Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final. After several minutes, Kariya got up and made his way to the dressing room. A short while later, he returned to the game, and while playing with what was likely a concussion, scored the winning goal to force Game 7, which the Ducks lost. Kariya's 15-year NHL career was ultimately ended by the effects of multiple concussions. "With concussions, the guy walks into the dressing room the next day and they ask, 'how are you doing? Are you okay to go tomorrow?' he told the <italics>Globe and Mail </italics>after announcing his retirement<italics> </italics>in 2011.
10 of 15Tim Sharp/AP
During Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Dallas Stars' defenseman collided with New Jersey's Scott Gomez and fell awkwardly into the boards, injuring his knee. In agony and unable to rise, Sydor gamely crawled and dragged himself across the ice and back into the play. (You can watch the play here.) Despite his heroics, the defending champion Stars lost the game, which clinched the Cup for the Devils.
11 of 15Lou Capozzola/SI
The playoffs are surely no beauty contest. LeClair, a Flyers winger, sported the effects of taking a stick to the face from Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur in Game 3 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals. He returned, looking somewhat worse for wear, in Game 4 and played the rest of the seven-game series that was won by New Jersey. For a look at more battered mugs, check out our NHL Faces of Battle gallery.
12 of 15AP, David E. Klutho/SI
After missing nearly 30 regular-season games, Detroit's intrepid captain returned for the 2002 playoffs and led the Red Wings to their 10th Stanley Cup with a team-high 23 points while playing on a damaged knee that required reconstructive surgery during the offseason and knocked him out of the first 66 games of the 2002-03 campaign.
13 of 15Susan Walsh/AP
A versatile, two-way checking forward, Gilchrist won his first Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993 and paid a horrendous price to lift the chalice again with Detroit in 1998. Having suffered a groin injury, he continued to play through the postseason while being shot up with painkillers. Teammate Brendan Shanahan recalled hearing Gilchrist, who was several rooms away, screaming in agony each time team doctors inserted a hypodermic needle. Gilchrist won the Cup, but a muscle in the injured area separated from the bone and he ended up missing most of the next two seasons. He retired in 2003.
14 of 15Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Wayne Gretzky once said that he learned what it took to win the Stanley Cup after seeing the battered, exhausted Islanders in their dressing room after they'd swept his Oilers in the 1983 final. One of those Islanders was defenseman Ken Morrow (one of the pioneers of the playoff beard), who routinely played on bad knees that had to be drained each day. Teammate Bobby Nystrom recalled how Morrow would sit with needles in his knees with fluid draining out. And then he'd take the ice against the likes of Gretzky and other greats, helping the Isles win four consecutive Cups.
15 of 15Lee Balterman/SI.
Taken off on a stretcher in the third period of Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup Final, the defenseman returned to the ice early in the first overtime and to net the game-winning goal two minutes into the extra frame. A postgame X-ray revealed a broken bone in Baun's lower right leg, but even that didn't deter the hard-hitting blueliner. He took one shift in Game 7, which the Leafs won 4-0 for their third-consecutive championship. For more on Bobby Baun and other epic injury tales, read Stu Hackel's story on the NHL's timeless tradition of pain.
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