Hartnell says he ‘didn’t try to hurt’ Antipin

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Nashville Predators winger Scott Hartnell hopes that Buffalo Sabres defenseman Victor Antipin is OK after being stretchered off the ice thanks to a check he delivered.

(Moments before this post was about to be published, the Sabres announced that Antipin has been released from hospital. The team is expecting to provide an update regarding his status on Sunday. Fantastic news.)

Hartnell received a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for that hit on Antipin. The Sabres made the Predators pay on the ensuing power play, scoring three times to set the stage for Buffalo’s 7-4 upset win.

Hartnell regretted putting his teammates in that position, and also was concerned about the Sabres defenseman; NHL.com’s Robby Stanley reports that Hartnell insists he wasn’t “head-hunting.”

“I didn’t try to hurt the guy,” Hartnell said. “It was just kind of a hockey play. Those plays happen 10, 15 times a game. It was just an unfortunate accident.”

You can judge the hit for yourself in the video above this post’s headline, and view the check from other perspectives in this post. As you’d likely expect with a hit that caused a played to be taken off the ice on a stretcher and eventually hospitalized, there was plenty of debate regarding how dirty or clean that check might have been.

However you feel about the hit and the penalty call (not to mention potential supplemental discipline), it’s fantastic to learn that Antipin is no longer hospitalized. It’s a very positive sign that it happened during the same night that he was under observation.

The Predators will need to wait longer to clinch the Central Division, yet it’s unlikely that losing this game will hurt them too badly.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

It can’t be a great feeling for Hartnell, however, as Nashville’s deep when it comes to forward options, and Peter Laviolette might view the rugged winger as the sort of player who might find himself taking bad penalties.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.