NEW YORK — Tampa Bay defenseman Mikhail Sergachev had to leave the ice on a stretcher after his left leg bent at an awkward angle seven minutes into the second period of the Lightning’s game against the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.
The 25-year-old defenseman grabbed his left knee as he went down along the boards in the Lightning’s end of the ice. Sergachev became tangled with Rangers forward Alexis Lafreniere after Lafreniere attempted a reverse hit on the approaching Tampa Bay player. Sergachev’s left skate seemed to stick in the ice as his knee twisted at an unnatural angle.
Sergachev had returned Wednesday after missing the previous 17 games with a leg injury suffered in December. The Lightning declared Sergachev out for the game with a lower-body injury before the second period concluded. There was no further information on his condition after the game.
“Super tough. Sergei in his first game back to see him in such pain,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “You pray for the best, but obviously it’s not looking great.”
The entire Lightning team left the bench to gather around their injured defenseman. Players from both teams also went over to Sergachev as he left the ice on a rolling stretcher. Sergachev appeared be in tears as he held his jersey close to his face while sitting on the stretcher. He gave a thumbs-up to the Madison Square Garden crowd.
“In the end, you’ve got your family, your biological family, but these are the people you spend pretty much your whole life with,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, who left his bench to speak with Sergachev as he was taken from the ice. “He’s a really tough kid. Emotions were coming out. It was clear the Rangers cared for him. They all cleared the bench. It’s more than hockey.”
Cooper wouldn’t speculate if Sergachev’s injury could be season-ending.
“Let’s not think that way,” Cooper said.
The Russian defenseman is in his seventh season with the Lightning. He has played 475 career games, including four contests with the Montreal Canadiens, who selected him ninth overall in the 2016 NHL draft.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.