The NHL has avoided any new coronavirus infections inside the league’s two bubbles, but as Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tucker Poolman learned after taking a puck to the face on Tuesday, it’s still best to wear a face mask.
Poolman, who typically plays with a visor, changed to a full cage mask after being struck in the face in the second period of the Jets’ 6-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday in Edmonton.
After the puck ricocheted deep in the Winnipeg zone, Calgary’s Mikael Backlund launched a slap shot in front of the diving Poolman. Unfortunately for the 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenseman, the puck flew under his visor and appeared to strike him on the right side of his face along the jawbone.
#GoJetsGo Tucker Poolman catches the puck in the face after going for this block. pic.twitter.com/CWtlMyHeRu
A clear shot of the damage wasn’t visible, but television cameras did capture the roughly 30-foot blood trail he left on his way to the locker room, where he was apparently stitched up.
The team did not reveal how many stitches he received.
‘Tucker was really lucky he didn’t lose any teeth,’ Jets coach Paul Maurice told reporters. ‘He’s got some sutures there. He’s got a giant-sized. . . five golf balls. He’s got a huge welt on the side of his face.’
Edmonton’s ice crew quickly scraped up the plasma at Rogers Place, which has banned fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But as gruesome as the scene was for Poolman, he still managed to return for the third period, albeit with a full cage mask rather than the plexiglass visor.
‘That’s a great thing for your hockey team when he walks back into the locker room,’ Maurice said. ‘We were all concerned, really concerned, after he took that puck.’
The Jets are facing elimination, trailing Calgary 2-1 in a best-of-five series in the NHL’s expanded 24-team playoff following the coronavirus hiatus. The league’s other bubble is located in Toronto.
Game 4 will be played Thursday in Edmonton.
#GoJetsGo Tucker Poolman catches the puck in the face after going for this block. pic.twitter.com/qNHvliKagR