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Boychuk out for Islanders after 90-stitch cut to eyelid

Defenseman's eye OK; no timetable for return

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Johnny Boychuk had no damage to his eye, but the New York Islanders defenseman required 90 stitches to close a cut to his eyelid after taking a skate to the face during the third period of a 6-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

There is no timetable for his return.

"Johnny Boychuk is OK," Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said Wednesday. "There has been no damage to his eye. He had quite a night. He felt a skate blade get his eye. Fortunately, it just got the eyelid. It took 90 stitches to fix; a plastic surgeon took care of it. I don't want to exaggerate with the stitches because they do very small stitches, but there were 90 of them.

"He'll be fine. It's just a matter of time with the eye opening up and him feeling good."

Boychuk was clipped by the skate of Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen and left the game with 11:18 remaining in the third. Lehkonen was tripped and his legs flew up into the air, catching the 36-year-old defenseman under his visor. Boychuk skated to the locker room immediately and didn't return. 

Tweet from @joboych: Thank you to everyone for the positive messages and thoughts! I am extremely grateful. Please know they did not go unheard. Luckily for me the skate only cut my eyelid. Sorry for the late response...facial recognition wasn���t working... thank you again my friends. Johnny B

"Ninety stitches is a lot. But the end result, 90 stitches is a lot better than losing an eye, and that was very fortunate," coach Barry Trotz said. "He's leading a blessed life, as I said when I saw him the other day. He still has a great sense of humor about it, obviously you saw his tweet about facial recognition, so that's the type of person Johnny is."

Boychuk is the third member of the Islanders to be injured by a cut from a skate blade this season. Forward Cal Clutterbuck missed more than two months with a lacerated right arm after being cut by the skate of Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron on Dec. 19 and returned to the lineup Saturday. 

Center Casey Cizikas hasn't played since his left leg was cut by the skate of Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov in a game Feb. 11. Lamoriello said he's not skating yet.

"Casey is coming along as quickly as he can," Lamoriello said. "He's walking. He's doing all the things he should be doing. Hopefully we'll get him on the ice in the next week or so, and then it's a process of him getting his strength back. I would say he's at least another couple of weeks away."

The Islanders (35-23-8) are one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. New York is 0-3-2 in its past five games and 2-7-2 in its past 11 after a 4-3 loss at the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

"We're certainly not happy with the way we've played the last couple of games," Lamoriello said, "but it's up to us in the room to get that going in the right direction. I believe in this team, I believe in the players and their ability. We've shown that; I just think we have to get our … compete level to another level that it's been, and I think we'll be fine."

Lamoriello refused to use the Islanders' injuries as a reason for their recent struggles.

"I don't like to use excuses," he said. "Injuries are excuses, tiredness, excuses. I think that you've got to compete in this game. You've got to overcome this. Every other team has to go through it, and they do go through it. We're not unique to these type of situations we're in and we just have to get a feel-good right now and get a good game out of ourselves."

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