The Maple Leafs said Tavares was “thoroughly examined and assessed” by the St. Michael’s Hospital neurosurgical team and the team’s medical director. He was “conscious and communicating well” overnight. Tavares is back at home resting, under the care and supervision of Toronto team doctors.
Tavares will be out of the lineup indefinitely.
The incident occurred in the first period of Game 1 of the first-round series, a 2-1 Canadiens win. Tavares fell to the ice after a hit by Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot. As Tavares was falling, he was clipped in the head by a diving Corey Perry. Tavares needed to leave the game on a stretcher, though he gave a thumbs up as he was leaving the ice.
Several Montreal players, including Perry, went over to wish Tavares well before he was stretchered off.
“I was pretty disheartened to see that happen to such a good guy,” Canadiens goalie Carey Price said. “It’s a sobering reminder that hockey is just a game.”
Perry, who has played with Tavares on Team Canada in international competitions, said he tried to jump over Tavares but that his knee inadvertently struck Tavares’ head.
“I don’t know what else to do there,” Perry said. “I tried to jump. I know Johnny pretty well, and I just hope he’s OK. … I honestly felt sick to my stomach when I saw it. When I saw him, with the way he is, it’s a scary situation. I’ll reach out to him and talk to him, and hopefully he’s OK.”
Maple Leafs forward Nick Foligno engaged in a fight with Perry shortly after the game resumed.
Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said the incident left his players “rattled and concerned.”
“I’ve experienced a lot of different things, a lot of tough injuries like that in my time,” Keefe said. “In an empty building like that, it’s probably the most uncomfortable situation I’ve been a part of on the ice. It was really tough to get through.”
Game 2 is Saturday in Toronto.