PITTSBURGH (AP) -Ottawa Senators forward Patrick Eaves was taken off the ice on a stretcher after being leveled by Colby Armstrong midway through the second period of Sunday's playoff game against Pittsburgh.
Eaves was carrying the puck around the net in the Pittsburgh end with Penguins defenseman Josef Melichar tugging at him when Armstrong came from the opposite direction and put a shoulder hit on him.
Eaves appeared to be knocked unconscious on the play, but was seen talking and moving his hands while he was leaving the ice. He was not taken to a hospital, and the Senators said he had a head injury - almost certainly a concussion. His status for Game 4 on Tuesday was not certain, but a concussion would likely keep him out.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported Eaves having a concussion, but the Senators did not confirm that and said only that Eaves had a head injury.
As doctors attended to Eaves on the ice, the Senators' Mike Comrie and the Penguins Maxime Talbot fought near center ice.
"I thought it was a dirty hit," Ottawa's Jason Spezza said following his team's 4-2 victory. "Any time a guy takes a run like that ... obviously, there is some intent there."
Senators coach Bryan Murray disagreed with his player.
"The kid was trying to make contact," Murray said. "He (Eaves) had his head down a little bit. He drove with his shoulder, that's part of hockey. I feel read bad with him getting hurt, and I know there will be extensive articles about ... how that shouldn't be allowed. It was a fair hit, a hockey hit, and we live with that."
Senators goalie Ray Emery said the sight of seeing Eaves hurt may not have helped his teammates build the lead, but possibly prevented them from losing it. Ottawa led twice in the third period Saturday, but ended up losing 4-3.
"I think you kind of dig a bit deeper when you see one of your guys go off on a stretcher like that," Emery said. "It's something you don't want to see and maybe it's something you can rally around."
Armstrong was involved in two similar plays this season. On Oct. 14, Carolina forward Trevor Letowski was knocked unconscious and sustained a concussion when Armstrong put a blind-side hit on him in the Hurricanes' end.
Letowski, who also sustained facial cuts, missed nine games because of the concussion.
On Feb. 1, Armstrong put a hard hit on the Canadiens' Saku Koivu near the end boards but also wasn't penalized, though Montreal's Sheldon Souray immediately went after Armstrong. A day later, Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau labeled Armstrong's hit "a cheap shot."