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BRUINS

Brandon Carlo taken to hospital by ambulance after head-hunting hit from Washington’s Tom Wilson

Brandon Carlo collects himself after taking a hard shot from Washington's Tom Wilson in the first period. Carlo was ruled out with an upper-body injury during the intermission.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

In the empty TD Garden Friday night, the sounds were clearly heard from the Level 9 press box.

The crunch of Brandon Carlo against the glass. The silence after players realized he was in trouble. The shouts from the Bruins bench.

At Tom Wilson:

“You’re a [expletive] scumbag.”

“[Expletive] headshot.”

“[Expletive] hit.”

At the officials, who kept their arms at their sides while the pile cleared:

“[Expletive] brutal!”

From Bruce Cassidy, at an official who told him there was no penalty coming:

“He’s going to get five games! For sure it’s a [expletive] penalty!”


Wilson, widely considered the game’s dirtiest player, lived up to that reputation with a head-hunting hit on Carlo late in the first period of Friday’s game. With the Bruins up, 1-0, and 1:28 left in the period, the Capitals winger steamed into the corner as Carlo played the puck, using his gloves and elbows to drive Carlo’s head and shoulders into the boards from about a foot away.

The Bruins defenseman grabbed his head and crumpled to the ice, taking a couple whacks from Washington winger Jakub Vrana on the way down. He remained face-down for about a minute, and gingerly made his way to the room. He was ruled out for the rest of the game with an upper-body injury, and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

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Speaking after the game, Cassidy did not know if Carlo, 24, was staying in the hospital overnight. Asked if Carlo had a concussion, Cassidy said, “You can probably make your own call on that, considering the hit was directly to the head.”

Referees Dean Morton and Pierre Lambert did not make a call on the ice. Capitals coach Peter Laviolette agreed with them.

“I mean, his feet were on the ice, he stayed down with everything,” Laviolette said. “It just looked like a hard hit in the corner. I’m not sure exactly sure what happened but to me it looked like just a hit.”

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Cassidy called the play a “predatory hit from a player that’s done that before,” he said. “We felt it was completely unnecessary. Dirty.”

It is stunning that Wilson wasn’t tagged with a penalty, but as Cassidy said heatedly and pointedly in the moment, a suspension is likely coming.

Wilson’s rap sheet includes a 2017-18 run in which he was suspended for four preseason games, two regular-season games and three playoff games for dangerous hits. In a video explaining his 20-game ban for a headshot on St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvist, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s narrator said it was his “fourth suspension in his last 105 games, an unprecedented frequency of suspensions in the history of the Department of Player Safety.”

He has not been suspended since that Sept. 30, 2018 hit, a span of 166 games including playoffs, and is no longer considered a repeat offender under the rules.

“From my view, I thought it was shoulder to the head,” said Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, who was on the bench at the time. “The refs said they thought otherwise … if they’re seeing it, I guess I have to believe them.”

But Bergeron, whose career once nearly ended from a predatory hit in 2007, said there’s no place for hits on vulnerable players.

“When a guy’s in that position, you have to pull up … that’s definitely something as players we’ve talked about getting rid of.

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“It has to start from the players. We’re the ones playing the game.”


Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.