IT'S a disconcerting and frightening scene at any time, but even more so when a club's leading scorer exits the ice clutching his throat after taking a shot to the neck.
Winnipeg Jets ace Blake Wheeler was taken to the hospital Saturday afternoon after being nailed in the throat on a shot by New Jersey Devils forward Petr Sykora with just over 13 minutes left in the second period. The Jets confirmed later in the day that tests on Wheeler's neck and throat were negative, although his status for the upcoming two-game road trip to Ottawa and New Jersey is uncertain. He leads the squad with 32 points on nine goals and 23 assists.
The Jets are already without two of their top defencemen in Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian. Byfuglien won't be available for the road trip, Bogosian might be -- and the club did call up Paul Postma from the St. John's IceCaps early Saturday. Postma was summoned as Mark Flood was the latest Jet to catch the flu bug, but Flood fought off the sickness to play against the Devils.
The 22-year-old has six goals and 21 assists in 30 games with the IceCaps and will stay with the Jets on their trip east.
PENALTY SHOTS APLENTY: The Jets had another penalty shot called against them Saturday when Ron Hainsey got tangled with Patrik Elias in front of Ondrej Pavelec. Elias would miss on his attempt, but it marks the third time in the last six games the Jets' goaltenders have faced shooters on penalty shots. Boston's Shawn Thornton beat Pavelec in the Bruins' 5-3 win over the Jets on Jan. 10, and Montreal's Lars Eller did his spinarama move for a goal against Chris Mason on Jan. 4. Winnipeg lost all three games.
Asked if the referee said anything to him after the infraction, Hainsey said:
"No. Obviously I don't want a penalty there, but that's the way it goes."
THE VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE: Quotes from the Devils' dressing room:
"Obviously the heads-up play by (Adam) Larsson on the winning goal and then the big goal from (Kurtis) Foster off the faceoff. We knew we needed contributions from some different people tonight with some of the guys we have out of the lineup, and at the end of the road trip we got that." -- Devils head coach Peter DeBoer
"It was a good win for us. I think we played pretty good all game. We had a lot of quality chances on Pavelec. He made some good saves to keep them there... Got a little burst at the end. We got a little luck, we battled real hard. A little chaotic, but we got it done." -- Martin Brodeur, New Jersey goaltender.
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