It could have ended much differently. Thankfully for Erik Brannstrom, a young defenceman with the Ottawa Senators, it didn’t.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs up 5-3 in the late stages of Wednesday night’s season opener at Scotiabank Arena, the Senators elected to pull goaltender Craig Anderson in search of a couple of tallies.
In the final seconds of the contest, Toronto’s Auston Matthews attempted to stuff the puck into the empty net to complete his hat trick. Brannstrom, however, had other plans. The 20-year-old Swede gave Matthews a shove shortly after he curled the biscuit towards the net. While his effort likely stopped Matthews from scoring, it also caused the first overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft to run into the post and lose his balance.
From there, he fell head over heels and — in doing so — his left skate came up and made contact with Brannstrom’s face.
Matthews nearly buries the empty netter for the hat trick. Takes an ugly bump with Erik Brannstrom who gets a skate to the face. pic.twitter.com/g3HyExp8xS— Flintor (@TheFlintor) October 3, 2019
Upon watching the replay in slow motion, it appears that Matthews’ blade nicked the blueliner below his visor. Brannstrom crumpled to the ice and immediately made his way to the bench for repairs.
Thankfully, it sounds like he’s going to be alright.
As a result, Senators fans will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Brannstrom was one of the key returns in the trade that sent Mark Stone from Ottawa to Vegas at the 2019 trade deadline. He was drafted 15th overall by the Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Draft.
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