By Jim Diamond
Late in the third period of Tuesday night’s game against the visiting Vancouver Canucks, Predators center Paul Gaustad collided with Vancouver winger Alex Burrows near the blue line in front of the Canucks bench. Burrows’ shoulder appeared to catch Gaustad up high, and he grabbed at his face as he was falling to the ice.
Goddess of the Gifs Steph caught it here:
Play continued for a bit before it was whistled down. Since there was no delayed penalty indicated, the ensuing 5-minute interference major that was assessed to Burrows was likely seen by one of the linesmen and communicated to the referees at the stoppage.
“I felt that we collided more than anything, but you never want to see someone go down,” Burrows said. “I’ve been on the wrong side sometimes and you never want to see someone be down. I hope he’s alright.”
Burrows was ejected from the game, as is mandatory when an interference major is called.
“My intentions weren’t to hurt him or anything,” Burrows said.
Gaustad’s fellow center Mike Fisher did not like the hit.
“The refs made the right call,” Fisher said. “That was a cheap shot. Hopefully Paul is going to be okay. That’s the main thing.”
As Gaustad was down on the ice, Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa skated by him and yelled in his direction and was immediately given a game misconduct by referee Francois St. Laurent.
Gaustad skated off the ice under his own power and went directly back to the Nashville locker room. A team spokesman said that they did not have an update on his condition.
In his postgame press conference, Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said that he did not see the hit.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety will likely review the hit. Burrows is no stranger to controversial plays. Earlier this season, he was suspended for three games as a result of a late and high hit on Montreal’s Alexei Emelin.
“You’re always worried,” Burrows said when asked if he was concerned about a suspension. “It’s not for me to judge or forecast what’s going to happen. We’ll let the people that are in charge make the call and we’ll go from there.”
Should Gaustad be sidelined, he will join a growing list of banged up Nashville forwards. Although Matt Cullen, James Neal, and Eric Nystrom have all resumed skating, none played in Tuesday night’s game.
Not known for his offensive prowess, Gaustad chipped in with an assist on Nashville’s second goal Tuesday. He is relied upon heavily for his faceoff and penalty killing acumen. With a 56.1 success rate, Gaustad entered the night as the team’s best faceoff man, placing him in the top 10 of the NHL. His 2:16 of average shorthanded ice time per game is tops among Nashville forwards.