By Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Jets forward Morgan Barron never had any doubt that he’d return to the ice after taking a skate to the face in the opener of Winnipeg’s first-round series against Vegas on Tuesday night.
He needed over 75 stitches after goaltender Laurent Brossoit’s skate blade sliced him near his right eyebrow in the first period of Winnipeg’s 5-1 victory over the Golden Knights.
“It missed everything important and I had feeling and everything,” Barron said. “So as long as they stitched me up well, just as they did, it was awesome. The team did a great job in there.”
Dried blood was still visible under his brow as Barron spoke to reporters after the game. A clear bandage covered part of his forehead.
“Looks like he got attacked by a shark,” said Jets forward Adam Lowry. “It’s a scary thing. We’re all so worried about the puck crossing the line and all of the sudden we see a trail of blood all the way from the crease to the bench.”
Barron was one of several players that fell to the ice during a wild scramble in the Vegas crease.
With Brossoit sprawled face down near the goal line trying to keep the puck out, his right leg rose in the air just as Barron was coming downward. The netminder’s skate blade was briefly wedged between Barron’s face and his visor.
“I was trying to figure out if the puck went in,” Barron said. “It was sitting pretty close and obviously I saw the skate coming and it was just an unlucky play, a little bit unfortunate.
“The first thought was I could see out of the eye, so that was the main thing.”
He immediately went to the locker-room for repairs and returned to the ice before the midway point of the second period. Barron’s helmet included a full facial cage for added protection.
“Obviously very happy he’s healthy and OK,” said Jets forward Kyle Connor. “He’s about as tough as they come.”
Jets coach Rick Bowness said he went to check on Barron during the first intermission and was told by the trainers and doctors that he’d return.
“From what they told me, as soon as he’s laying down and getting stitched up, he’s saying, ‘I’ve got to get back. I’ve got to get back,'” Bowness said.
Once he returned to the ice, Barron went out and “banged into someone,” Bowness added.
“That’s Winnipeg Jet hockey, that we’re all in, and Morgan is a perfect example of that tonight,” he said. “So give him a lot of credit. That takes a lot of courage.”
The Jets had a 2-0 lead when Barron came back. Winnipeg scored again early in the third period and added two late goals to ice it.
“I think Morgan’s presence coming back from that – because they all realized how bad it was – that it gave everyone a big boost,” Bowness said.
Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena.
With files from The Associated Press.
Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.