Toronto Maple Leafs’ John Tavares carted off ice, taken to hospital after hit to face

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was taken off the ice on a stretcher after taking a knee to his face Thursday night in Game 1 of the team’s first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.

Tavares gave a thumbs-up as he left the ice at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Leafs said he was taken to a local hospital.

The incident occurred in the first period when Tavares fell to the ice after a hit by Ben Chiarot. As Tavares was falling, he was clipped in the head by a diving Corey Perry.

Tavares, 30, was moving his extremities the entire time. He tried to stand up but couldn’t, losing his balance and falling backward. Several Montreal players came over to wish Tavares well before he was stretched off, including Perry.

Toronto’s Wayne Simmonds called the collision a “scary sight” and said the team was shaken up.

“It’s on us. We’ve got to get this one for Johnny,” Simmonds told Sportsnet after the first period. “I know he wouldn’t want anything but for us to get the win for him tonight. So we’ve got to do that.”

Maple Leafs forward Nick Foligno engaged in a fight with Perry shortly after the game resumed.

The Canadiens took to Twitter during Thursday’s game, writing, “We’d like to express our concern for John Tavares and are sending him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.”

The Leafs and Canadiens are playing each other in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1979.

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