ST. PAUL -- Had things turned out differently, and the Wild won Game 5 of its First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series with the St. Louis Blues, then followed with a win in Game 6, Minnesota would be preparing for a Game 7 showdown back at Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday.
It would likely be doing so without forward Eric Staal, who sustained an injury during the second period of Game 5 after he slid head first into the boards behind Blues goaltender Jake Allen.
Staal was helped from the ice before being taken to Regions Hospital, where he was released later that evening.
Concussions are nothing to take lightly, but when considering how much worse the situation could have been for Staal, the veteran centerman is thanking his lucky stars.
Video: Eric Staal Injury Update
"It's not fun for anybody to watch or see and I feel fortunate obviously with how it ended up, it could have been worse," Staal said on Tuesday. "A lot of good help from everybody on the ice, the training staff, doctors, to make sure everything was fine. I've gotten progressively better every day since."
When it first occurred, Staal exhibited little movement on the ice. As play raced towards the other goal, referees blew the whistle and immediately got training staff on the ice to attend to Staal.
In the first few moments after, Staal had a numbness in his feet that immediately alarmed medical personnel. Luckily, that quickly subsided and Staal was able to stand up a few minutes later.
"When you're in there, it happens really fast. And then you get everybody on the ice asking you a lot of questions, and you're just trying to process everything that's going on and you're just trying to answer the questions honestly of what I was feeling at that moment," Staal said. "Fortunate it wasn't any worse with some of the stuff that could have happened. I was lucky that I got a lot of good help from a lot of good people."
It was especially difficult for Staal's wife, Tanya, and his two oldest children, who were in attendance and had no idea of the severity of the injury until she was able to find him outside the Wild dressing room a few minutes later.
"I think I scared my wife a little bit. She came down right after, and [I] basically said sorry because it's no fun to watch," Staal said. "She's watched a lot of hockey over time, and I'm sure when you see your husband in that state, it can shake you up a little bit. But she was with me right from there all the way through the process of what we had to do at the hospital and everything, so we're really fortunate."
Of course, Staal wasn't able to see Minnesota's furious, late comeback to force overtime and he didn't see the Wild's season end on Magnus Paajarvi's overtime goal.
Other than the finish, it was a successful first season in Minnesota for Staal, who led the club with 28 goals during the regular season and finished second on the club with 65 points.
"I'd be lying to you if I didn't say it felt good to maybe stick it to some people that didn't think I could play still a little bit," Staal said. "I came here expecting to play on a good team, came here expecting to play with some great players and be given an opportunity, and I was able to do that and contribute.
"We did a lot of great things throughout the season. It just stings right now with how it finished. For me, personally, I wish I could have done more to help the group in the playoffs. Sometimes that's how it goes, and now it's about preparing yourself for next season to have a good start."