Jake Evans is out indefinitely for the Montreal Canadiens because of a concussion.
Evans was injured with 57 seconds remaining in a 5-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Second Round on Wednesday when he was checked by Jets center Mark Scheifele after wrapping the puck into an empty net.
“More or less you’re thinking about Jake and hoping he’s OK,” Canadiens forward Paul Byron said Thursday. “I mean, it’s scary. There’s your teammate lying on the ice like that unconscious. … When you see your teammate, your friend, lying on the ice like that, it’s a terrible feeling. We’re all wishing Jake the best and hope he’s OK. The best way for us to respond is to win hockey games so Jake can come back. He’s been great for us.”
Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme said Evans did not go to the hospital, was evaluated by Canadiens doctors at their Winnipeg hotel overnight and was doing better Thursday morning.
Scheifele was assessed a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct. He was scheduled for a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday.
“Just hope he’s OK,” Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler said after the game. “I mean, that’s it. Really, that’s all. That’s the concern. It’s never good to see a guy on the ice for that amount of time and the stretcher out is scary. So we’re just hoping that he’s OK.”
Montreal leads the best-of-7 series with Game 2 at Winnipeg on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, SN, TVAS).
“He’s a guy that’s worked hard to get to the spot he is,” Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry said. “He’s a big part of our team. Obviously he’s a guy that will be missed. We know him being the person and the player that he is, he’s going to do everything necessary to make sure that he’s back as quickly as he can be.”
Evans scored his first NHL postseason goal in his 10th game (fourth of these playoffs). He played 17:55.
“I saw him last night in the [locker room] before leaving,” Byron said. “Saw him again at the hotel and then saw him again this morning. Obviously last night he looked rough, pretty shaken up by the hit. It was hard seeing him, honestly. We’re glad he’s OK. His body is feeling a little bit better. I know he’s got a concussion now and not feeling the best, but it was good to see him, good to see him at the hotel. You’re always hoping it’s nothing serious and glad that’s not the case. We’ve got to win hockey games for him. That’s the best way to respond now.”
In Game 1 of the first round, Maple Leafs center John Tavares was taken off on a stretcher after he was injured when hit in the head by the knee of Canadiens forward Corey Perry after falling to the ice.
“Just to see him laying there, obviously you never want to see that,” Montreal defenseman Joel Edmundson said after the game. “Obviously there was something like that that happened last series and it just kills the vibe, and we just hope he’s OK.”
Winnipeg forward Nikolaj Ehlers shielded Evans during the pushing and shoving after the play.
“Well, obviously I hope he’s OK,” Ehlers said. “I came back and saw that he wasn’t looking good. When something like that happens, there tends to be a scrum. So I was just trying to keep everyone away from him. In a situation like that, you don’t want anyone falling on top of him. I was just trying to keep everyone away.”
Evans was down on the ice for about six minutes before being taken off. He bumped fists with Kotkaniemi on his way off the ice.
“Just seeing him moving after a thing like that, it’s huge,” Kotkaniemi said. “Even getting the fist bump, you know, it’s great to see that. I’m feeling much easier now just knowing he’s OK.”
Wednesday was Evans’ 25th birthday.
“Well, hopefully the young man is going to be all right,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “It’s such a highly unusual play because you’re backchecking back to kill an empty-net play, you’re coming full speed. When Mark stopped skating, he kept his arms in. It’s a heavy, heavy hit. There’s no doubt about that. I’m sure the League will have its opinion.”
NHL.com staff writers Tim Campbell and Mike Zeisberger and independent correspondent Sean Farrell contributed to this report