RALEIGH, N.C. – Neal Pionk took the ice at the Rangers’ optional morning skate Tuesday and talked publicly for the first time about taking a stick from Sidney Crosby in the eye in Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The defenseman admitted it was a scary incident.
“There was a shot from the point, I went to retrieve the puck,’’ Pionk recalled of the incident, which occurred in the final seconds of the second period. “(Crosby) just tried to lift my stick up and got a little high. After that, it was just kind of a rush of emotions. I didn’t really know what was going on. It was a little scary at the moment.’’
Pionk, sporting a black eye, with discoloration on the outside of his right eyelid and below the eye, said he immediately closed his eye so tightly that it wasn’t until he got back to the training room, and athletic trainer Jim Ramsay opened his eye that he could see the light in the room.
“It could have been a lot worse,’’ Pionk said.
Pionk, who did not dress for Tuesday’s game against the Hurricanes, said he got one stitch in the eyelid and the rest of the cut was glued. He said his eye has been feeling better every day, and he saw the eye doctor Monday and his vison is “all good.’’
Coach David Quinn was thankful Pionk wasn’t seriously injured.
“Anytime you get a stick up in the face and under the visor, anything can happen,’’ Quinn said. “And certainly for him, to avoid anything major and be able to hold him out in the next game from a precautionary standpoint, you feel fortunate.’’
Jesper Fast, who missed Sunday’s game with the flu, was back in the lineup. Defenseman Freddie Claesson, who returned Sunday after missing 13 games with a dislocated shoulder, was scratched.