MONTREAL – The Bruins' Johnny Boychuk needed to be removed from the Bell Centre ice on a stretcher and taken to Montreal General Hospital after getting boarded by Max Pacioretty in an awkward, scary play behind the Canadiens net in the first period on Thursday night.
Boychuk was going behind the net to play a puck at the same time as Pacioretty, and the Montreal forward made contact with the Boston defenseman’s shoulder a few feet away from the boards.
That caused Boychuk to twist awkwardly and crash into the end boards with his neck and back snapping back as Pacioretty finished the check on the vulnerable player. Boychuk was on all fours and appeared to be having difficulty breathing before Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara helped the defenseman up onto a stretcher, where he was quickly led off the ice.
Per a source close to Boychuk, the injury is a lower back issue that isn't expected to be any kind of serious injury. Boychuk was cleared to fly back with the team after the game.
Pacioretty was assessed a two-minute penalty for a boarding on the play, but it didn’t appear to be an overly dirty hit. It was just more of a weird sequence where Boychuk made contact with the boards while twisting, and it would be surprising if there were any supplemental discipline beyond the minor penalty.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a statement:
"Johnny Boychuk has been taken to Montreal General Hospital for observation, after being injured in Thursday's game against the Canadiens. Before he was transported to the hospital, he was able to demonstrate movement in all of his extremities. We will provide a further update when it is appropriate."
It’s the fourth time this season that a Bruins defenseman had to leave a game in the first period with an injury, and has forced the B’s to make it through nearly an entire game with five D-men. Boychuk missed a game earlier this season when his back locked up on him, so there is a prior history of back issues with the B’s defenseman in the recent past.