BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -Panthers forward Richard Zednik underwent surgery to close a deep gash on the right side of his neck, after he was cut by a teammate's skate during a game against the Sabres on Sunday night.
Zednik was in stable condition at a Buffalo hospital.
Blood gushed from Zednik's neck after he was hurt midway through the third period of Buffalo's 5-3 victory, creating a frightening moment that delayed the game for about 15 minutes, and there was a brief discussion about postponing the game altogether.
Zednik was behind the play and skating into the right corner of the Sabres' zone, when teammate Olli Jokinen was upended by Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur. Jokinen fell head-first to the ice, and his right leg flew up and struck Zednik directly on the side of the neck.
Clutching his neck, Zednik immediately raced to the Florida bench, leaving a long trail of blood. Arriving at the bench, he nearly fell into the arms of a team trainer, who quickly applied a towel to the cut. Zednik was then helped off the ice by the trainer and teammate Jassen Cullimore, and escorted immediately to the Panthers' dressing room.
Panthers spokesman Justin Copertino said Zednik was transported by ambulance to nearby Buffalo General Hospital. Copertino said the team was making arrangements to have Zednik's wife, Jessica, fly from South Florida to Buffalo by a charter flight Sunday night.
The team was scheduled to return to Miami, but assistant general manager Randy Sexton and assistant trainer Dave Zenobi were going to stay behind to be with Zednik, Copertino said.
Zednik's injury left players and coaches on both benches in shock, and a silent hush fell over the crowd at HSBC Arena.
NHL vice president Colin Campbell consulted with Sabres general manager Darcy Regier and referee Bill McCreary in a tunnel after Zednik was loaded into an ambulance. Campbell, who was not available for comment was in attendance in part because his son, Gregory Campbell, plays for the Panthers.
Jokinen, the Panthers' captain, was so shaken by the injury that he thought officials should have stopped the game with 9:56 remaining.
"We shouldn't have finished the game," Jokinen said. "I saw the replay, that it was my skate that hit him in the throat. I think we were all in shock. I've never seen anything like that. There are bigger things than (finishing the game). It was terrifying."
"I didn't think anyone on our team was thinking hockey out there after an injury like that," Jokinen said. "If it was my call, I would have gone to the hospital with him."
Coach Lindy Ruff said he and his players were also upset, and he wouldn't have been against the game being stopped.
"I don't know if there is a right answer, I don't know. I can fully understand if they wanted to cancel the whole game," Ruff said.
"It was pretty solemn. There wasn't a lot being said. There was just more concern for Richard than anything else," Ruff said, describing the mood on the bench. "When you see something like that, it isn't about playing anymore. But I said, we're going to finish the game and it's going to be what it's going to be."
As crews scraped the blood from the ice and the surface was cleaned by Zambonis during the extended delay, the public address announcer said: "Richard Zednik is in stable condition and on his way to a Buffalo hospital."
The crowd stood in applause during the announcement.
Panthers defenseman Steve Montador recalled seeing Zednik in a state of shock as he got to the bench.
"He looked pale, he was obviously standing and to a degree, coherent. But he didn't look as focused as you or I right now. He was staring at nothing," Montador said. "That's a pretty brave guy to realize what's going on: Grab your neck and get off the ice."
It was the second serious injury caused by a skate this weekend.
On Saturday, NHL linesman Pat Dapuzzo needed dozens of stitches to close a cut on his face after he was hit by the skate of Philadelphia Flyers forward Steve Downie in a game against the New York Rangers.
Dapuzzo, scheduled to retire at the end of the season, didn't return after the second-period injury.