The incident occurred during a goalmouth scramble during which the Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkone slipped and fell forward, with his trailing leg rising into the air and making contact with Boychuk’s face.
The 36-year-old immediately fell to the ice clutching his face where he squirmed in obvious discomfort for a few moments before rising to his feet and making a hasty exit from the rink in search of medical treatment.
“I think he’ll be OK, but it doesn’t matter, it’s a scary situation,” team captain Anders Lee said after the game. “You hate to see that happen. It happens quick, skate to the face. I think that’s where all our minds are right now for sure.”
Incredibly, Boychuk is just a year removed from a similar incident when he received an injury to his neck after a coming together with Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner.
For a brief moment, and especially when Boychuk was lying face down on the ice, the incident also seemed eerily reminiscent of the infamous situation suffered by Clint Malarchuk on the ice back in 1989.
On that occasion, a six-inch gash was cut into Malarchuk’s neck by the blade of a skate which left the player kneeling on the ice as blood gushed from his neck and formed a pool around him. The skate had severed the player’s carotid artery, with only the quick-thinking of trainer Jim Pizzutelli – a Vietnam veteran who had training in dealing with serious wounds – saving the player’s life.
Cal Clutterbuck, who was playing just his second game back with the Islanders after taking a blade to his wrist which required surgery earlier in the year, said after the game that he doesn’t know how injuries like that sustained by his teammate Boychuk can be avoided.
“I don’t know, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it,” he said. “I haven’t come up with a good answer yet. Just not fun to see that at all.”