Capitals' Nick Jensen walks out of arena, avoids hospital trip after being stretchered off

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nick Jensen walked out of the arena with his family, avoiding a trip to the hospital after the Washington Capitals defenseman crashed headfirst into the boards and was stretchered off the ice Saturday.

That update from coach Spencer Carbery came after the team said Jensen was conscious, alert and moving his extremities following the shove from Tampa Bay's Michael Eyssimont late in the first period.

“Scary situation,” Carbery said. “Initially when you see something like that, someone stretchered off, you’re thinking the worst-case situations. He’s doing better.”

Capitals players after their emotional 4-2 victory to keep their playoff hopes alive still had Jensen on their minds, especially college teammate and longtime friend Nic Dowd, who fought Eyssimont in the second.

“You’re immediately upset, but then when I see Jens laying on the ice like that, it’s tough to see,” Dowd said, his eyes welling with tears. "Our kids grow up together, born around the same time, know his family really well. Seeing anybody in a vulnerable state like that is challenging. But he’s a tough guy, so, I’m glad to know that he’s doing better now.”

After his head hit the boards, Jensen lay motionless on the ice while he was attended to by emergency medical personnel. Officials postponed the final 1:31 of the first period to be played after intermission.

There was no penalty called on the play, referee Frederick L’Ecuyer said, leading to boos from the crowd.

“He’s awesome,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, who won a USHL championship with Jensen in 2010 with Green Bay and went over to the home locker room to check in about him. “Those are tough ones to see, especially because of the result of the hit and it wasn’t penalized, nor should it have been. It was just a tough one all the way around. I’m hoping he’s OK. I heard he’s doing OK.”

Jensen's absence is the latest injury to Washington's blue line, already missing Rasmus Sandin, whose head hit a stanchion Sunday against Ottawa and who has been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season. The other five defensemen shouldered the load the rest of the way in the Lightning game.

"They really stepped up," said goaltender Charlie Lindgren, who added that he and his teammates determined to play like Jensen after the injury.

“That’s hard and it’s the right way and I thought we did that. Credit to the guys in here because it’s not easy seeing a brother go down like that.”



Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press