Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen earned a 37-save shutout en route to a 2-0 victory over the Florida Panthers. It was a contest critical to both teams as they attempt to claw their way into playoff spots in their respective divisions.
However, for Dallas the final result was secondary when weighed against the players injured over the course of that battle. Stars head coach Lindy Ruff reported after the game that both Tyler Seguin and Ales Hemsky will miss “some time” due to lower-body injuries, per the Stars official website’s Mark Stepneski.
Seguin’s injury occurred when Panthers forward Dmitry Kulikov clipped him late in the contest:
“It’s a dirty shot, something that takes your best player not only out of the game, but out of our lineup for a little bit,” Ruff said, per the Miami Herald.
“Let the league deal with it. I used to yell and scream about things like this and it didn’t do any good. It’s just a shot that didn’t need to happen.”
That’s not the extent of the damage though as after Seguin left the contest, Stars forward Patrick Eaves was struck in the head by the puck.
Eaves was hospitalized as a result.
“He’s had a previous injury there so we’re pretty concerned,” Ruff said.
Eaves suffered a broken jaw and concussion on Nov. 26, 2011 and didn’t play again until Jan. 21, 2013.
With the Dallas Stars up 2-0 over the Florida Panthers and the contest winding down, Tyler Seguin entered the Panthers zone and had his legs taken out from under him by Dmitry Kulikov, who dropped to all fours to level the Stars forward.
Seguin was slow to get up after the hit and once he did, he exited the game. Dmitry Kulikov received a five-minute major and game misconduct for clipping. Given the nature of the hit, Kulikov might be punished further by the league.
To make matters worse for Dallas, Patrick Eaves was struck in the head by the puck shortly after the incident and left the contest as well. The Stars were already missing Ales Hemsky, who sustained a lower-body injury earlier in the game, according to the team’s Twitter feed.
The Florida Panthers have been playing against the Dallas Stars tonight. Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim hasn’t been and the reason head coach Gerard Gallant gave for his decision angered agent Todd Diamond.
Gallant felt that the 31-year-old forward didn’t give 100% against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and he was scratched accordingly.
“There’s a few guys that didn’t give 100 percent [Thursday], but you got to make a decision,” Gallant added, per the Sun Sentinel.
When Diamond learned of Gallant’s remarks he fired back.
“It’s so disingenuous,” Diamond said. “When has Sean Bergenheim ever taken a shift less than 100 percent.
“It’s unprofessional of the coach. You get away with that in the Quebec junior league, but not in the NHL. … You can’t tell me the team is better without Sean playing, even on the fourth line. He’s a disruptive force in the offensive zone, who keeps the puck and creates chaos.
“It’s a shame a guy makes that comment. It’s a disgrace. I find it distasteful. … If they want to question Sean’s character they should have their head examined.”
Diamond also revealed that he asked Panthers GM Dale Tallon to trade his client before any of this even happened. The request was in response to Bergenheim being scratched for three consecutive contests from Feb. 3-8.
Bergenheim has eight goals and 18 points in 39 contests in 2014-15. He’s in the final season of a four-year, $11 million contract.
During his tenure with the Panthers, Bergenheim and the team sparred in an arbitration case over his salary for the 2013 lockout shortened campaign. He couldn’t play after the work stoppage because of a hip injury. Florida argued it didn’t have to pay Bergenheim because it claimed the injury was sustained while he was playing in the Finnish league. Bergenheim countered that he was originally hurt before the lockout and he ultimately won his medical grievance.
Kari Lehtonen will begin life on a short leash tonight against Florida — he’ll start against the Panthers, but will have newly acquired backup Jhonas Enroth on the bench for the first time since GM Jim Nill acquired him from Buffalo on Wednesday.
Lehtonen, who has been criticized this year for his uneven play, is 4-2-1 with a 2.70 GAA and .916 save percentage since the All-Star break — decent numbers, but hardly the type Dallas needs as it looks to get back into a playoff position.