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Notes: Perlini keeps perspective after taking skate to the face

Forward happy his eye remains intact; New Jersey's Hughes hits milestone

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

NEWARK -- Although his eye is black and blue and swollen and his nose is filled with stitches inside and out, Brendan Perlini knows he got off lucky.

At 16:09 of the first period Tuesday in Buffalo, Perlini and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju were both off-balance and Jokiharju's skate caught Perlini in the face as they fell.

Tweet from @SabresPlays: Brendan Perlini takes a skate to the face #Sabres50 #LGRW

"To be honest, it happened so fast it's tough for me to even - I've watched the replay once," Perlini said Thursday morning at the Prudential Center. "I kind of just turned, trying to get the puck in. I don't know if I lost an edge but I was kind of falling over and got tangled with Joki there. He was going down, too, and he kind of at the last second kicked his skate up or something. I don't really know what I felt, to be honest. Like I said, it was quick.

"For me, I was just really worried about my eye because that was the main thing I felt more than anything. Like way more than my nose, it was my eye. After getting up and learning that I could open it, everything was still good, for me I was pretty grateful that it was good with that. The doctors did a great job of fixing the nose. Now it's just try and recover."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "It's one of those of things you can't do nothing about it. Just lucky and grateful that everything's still alright."@Bubzp11 gives an update.

Red Wings head athletic therapist Piet Van Zant and assistant athletic therapist Russ Baumann sprang into action as soon as it happened and the Sabres team doctors were also there to help stitch Perlini back up.

"I think they said it was like 16 (stitches) on the outside and then I think 6-7 on the inside," Perlini said. "Something like that. I'm not 100 percent sure that's accurate but I think about right."

As fate would have it, Perlini had his billet family, Chris and Tracy, in the stands when it happened.

"I had my old billet family from Niagara, across from St. Catharines, they came down right away," Perlini said. "It was good. I talked to my parents right after that. Good to kind of have someone there that can talk to you right away. Obviously they make it seem like there's always worse things out there than this."

Perlini isn't sure when he'll be able to return to action as the swelling in his right eye is preventing him from fully opening it and his nose also needs to heal, too.

What he is sure about is the fact that his eye will return to normal, something for which he is very grateful.

"The swelling is coming a bit now but definitely that was the first thing," Perlini said. "I don't know what exactly hit me in the eye, whether it was his blade or his boot, or like the tip of his blade. I'm not exactly sure. I knew right away that was the initial pain and contact. Very grateful that I can still see and got two eyes. When you go through a situation like this, too, for me I come away from the game and you're grateful for those little things like that.

"I was lucky enough last night that I spent dinner with a friend of mine who was in the army. He's looking at my situation and he's seen people get shot and killed and he's looking at me and I've got a cut on my nose. I'm very grateful to still wake up and do everything that I can do every day. Live a normal life where there's many other people out there who go through a lot worse than this and have a lot more things going on than this."

All the Wings were very relieved that Perlini will eventually be 100 percent.

"It's good news," Dylan Larkin said. "I think his eye's okay but with the swelling and everything, he's unable to open it. He's doing all right. He feels better, he feels a lot better than after it. It's good news that he's okay."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: All good. 👍@Bubzp11 x #HockeyGuy

Said coach Jeff Blashill: "I was obviously real thankful. First off, you're real scared. I thought it might have clipped his eye. And then as he got up off the ice, if felt like it wasn't that. So then you feel better about it. I talked to him after the game and he looked not perfect but he looked in a good spot, and he's in a good spot now. It's starting to swell up, so that's the reality. But of all the things that could've happened, he probably got lucky."

Perlini said this isn't the first time he's had an injury to his face, not even the first time this season, but this is, of course, the most serious.

"Funny enough, about four weeks ago I took a puck in the pregame skate," Perlini said. "This mark right here. Straight in the nose. It's funny, I was talking to my family about it. Every year I seem to have like one area. My first year pro I took it a lot in my lips. High sticks. It seems like there's one area and I just keep repeatedly getting it in one season. This year happens to be the nose. So hopefully that's it for the rest of the year with the nose.

"That's probably the craziest I've seen or been a part of. There's always a lot worse out there, a lot of things going on in the world. For me it's just a little cut. We'll get over it and move on."

HUGHES HITS 20: It may not sound like a lot but hitting the 20-point mark is a pretty nice accomplishment for a rookie, especially one who is just 18 years old.

On Tuesday in a 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils rookie Jack Hughes scored a power-play goal to reach 20 points (7-13-20) in 47 games.

Tweet from @NJDevils: 🚨: Hughes🍎: Severson🍏: SimmondsWoos for Hughes!@PSEGdelivers | #FLAvsNJD

"It's hard," said Dylan Larkin, who played with Hughes on Team USA in the world championships last spring. "I talk about it every time I think we play against them but playing young, as an 18-year-old in the NHL, especially at the NTDP last year, playing against USHL players, to make the jump past a lot of levels to the NHL is impressive. He's going to be a bright star in this league for a long time when he gets going."

Blashill coached Team USA in the world championships and had seen Hughes play for the U.S. National Team Development Program.

"First of all, Jack's a heck of a player," Blashill said. "I think like any young player coming into the league, the expectation level from the outside needs to be tempered in a sense that it's really, really, really hard to make big, big, huge impacts as a first-year guy. I think if you look across the last few years, that's true of almost all the high picks that have come in. They've done a good job, and I think Jack when I watch him, he's certainly grown and getting better. He looks dynamic at times for sure. I'm sure he's learned a bunch as he's gone through it. That's just the reality of the pro game.

"What I know about Jack is he's super competitive, and he's got big-time swagger. And that's what the best players in the world have. He's got those two things. He's gonna be a really, really good player in this league for sure. I just think like everything, it's just tempered expectations. I think he's had a really good year. When you look at it, he's had a really good year."

Only three other 18-year-olds have achieved that mark for the Devils: Kirk Muller, who had 39 points in 1984-85; Nico Hischier, who had 25 points in 2017-18; and Paul Gagne, who had 24 points in 1980-81.

PLAN FOR ERICSSON: Veteran defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, placed on waivers Tuesday, cleared Wednesday but remains with the team.

"He just gives us flexibility that if we wanted to send him down we can," Blashill said. "He was back to where he needed to go through waivers, and so this just gives us the flexibility that just the more guys you have in that spot, the more flexible you can be. We got in a spot the other night in Buffalo if Helm wouldn't have been able to play and he wasn't going on the IR, we might've needed to dress 11 and 7, and that's fine if you choose to do that. But you don't want to have to be forced to do that. We just want to make sure we have that roster flexibility. But he's staying up right now."

Ericsson has played in 11 games this season.

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