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Islanders coach Capuano hit in face by puck

Leaves bench, returns in third period of Game 1 win against Lightning

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

Capuano hit by puck

NYI@TBL, Gm1: Capuano leaves bench after hit by puck

R2, Gm1: Islanders head coach Jack Capuano is hit by the puck, forcing him to the locker room, but returns later in the 3rd period

  • 00:37 •

TAMPA -- New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano stepped up to the podium and sat down in front of the microphone like nothing had happened. He had a small cut and bruise on his nose after taking a puck to the face, but he had received no stitches.

No big deal, especially after the Islanders defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series Wednesday.

Call it an upper-body injury.

"I'm good," Capuano said. "A little bit of a headache, but other than that, it's a good victory for our team."

It happened 8:29 into the third period with the Islanders defending a 4-2 lead. A deflected puck rocketed into the Islanders bench and struck Capuano. Players and staff huddled around him, and a trainer held a towel to his face as he left the bench and headed to the dressing room.

"It's scary, honestly," Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic said. "I'm glad it didn't take his eye out. I think everybody just immediately was, 'Is he OK?'"

Assistant Doug Weight took over for Capuano. The Lightning continued to press, and after center Valtteri Filppula scored to make it 4-3 with 2:32 to go, Capuano heard the horn go off and the fans roar. He returned to the bench.

"You want to get back out there," Capuano said. "It's unfortunate I got hit there. I had a headache for a little bit. Just wanted to make sure everything was all right."

Video: Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano on Game 1 Win

He's a hockey coach, a hardnosed one at that.

"I've been hit more times I think than when I played," said Capuano, who played college and pro hockey as a defenseman, including six NHL games - one for the Toronto Maple Leafs, three for the Vancouver Canucks and two for the Boston Bruins. "Just fortunately it caught me at the tip of the nose there and nothing real serious.

"But again, you're in there. You hear the horn go off. It's a one-goal game. I just … When I went back out there, the guys battled."

Follow the leader.

"He's battling," Hamonic said. "Nice to see him come back and healthy."

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