Bruins forward Chris Wagner was among the first players to check on Scott Sabourin after the Ottawa Senators defenseman went down in the early going of the Bruins’ 5-2 victory Saturday night at TD Garden.
“I tried to say, ‘We’re praying for you,’ ” Wagner said after the game. “I didn’t really see [the collision with the Bruins’ David Backes]. I just turned around and saw him out on the ice.
“Tough thing to see, it kind of shakes everybody, but especially right at the start of the game. No matter when it happens, it’s always tough to see.”
Sabourin and Wagner were teammates with the San Diego Gulls in the AHL in 2016-17.
“Great kid, too, I played with him a couple times in San Diego, golfed with him a lot,” Wagner said. “We became pretty tight, so hope nothing but the best.”
Afterward, Wagner said he sent a text message to Sabourin, but did not receive a reply.
“It was nice to see him give the thumbs-up and everything,” Wagner said. “You can see how the teams kind of come together and you wish nothing but the best for the guy.”
With the Bruins leading, 1-0, Sabourin closed in on Backes on the boards at the blue line opposite the Bruins’ bench. But as Sabourin arrived, Backes appeared to catch him in the face, Sabourin going down headfirst, Backes almost immediately motioning for help. Backes and other players stood vigil while Sabourin was treated, then taken away by stretcher.
Sabourin gave a thumbs-up sign on the way out as the crowd applauded. Backes then left the Bruins’ bench, possibly following concussion protocol.
“Extremely unfortunate with what happened with [Sabourin],” Bruins winger Brad Marchand said. “We’re all thinking about him and hope that he’s OK. You never want to see that happen to anybody and it’s scary. So it kind of shakes you after that happens, and it’s tough to get back in the mind-set of playing the game. But I think everyone just kind of got through that period and then after the first, try to regroup and get back at it.
“But I think it just shows our character and our ability to manage ourselves when we’re not playing our best. We had a really good third period and kind of took control. And that’s why we’re a good team, because we’re able to play through games like that, regardless whether we’re playing our best or not, and come out on the good side.”
The clash, followed by a delay of more than 11 minutes, seemed to dampen the Bruins’ enthusiasm for a while, the Senators’ Anthony Duclair equalizing at 12:04.
“It’s just kind of part of the game, you have to deal with,” Wagner said. “You don’t like to deal with it, but injuries happen. It’s never really that bad, but you have to regroup and keep on going.
“It’s the NHL, and they compete pretty hard. You hate to see that, no matter what. But, overall, they play a hard game, and they compete and we found a way to win, that’s all that counts.”
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy did not know why Backes left.
“I just saw him leave and at first I didn’t know if he was injured or concerned or both, and he never came back,” Cassidy said. “I don’t know, to be honest with you.”
“I don’t know the exact injury but they’re going to keep him overnight. He was conscious and speaking. We’ll know more tomorrow morning.”#Sens head coach D.J. Smith gives an update on Scott Sabourin and more following tonights emotional game against the Bruins. pic.twitter.com/OHf1wr5YPf— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) November 3, 2019
Cassidy was encouraged by reports on Sabourin.
“Scott’s in the hospital and doing OK, in terms of he’s aware, he’s alert, so that’s good news,” Cassidy said. “We’re all, we play hard, we battle each other. But you don’t want to see something like that happen to a young guy, especially. He was in Manchester [Monarchs] when I was in Providence; he’s battled his way to get to the NHL. So those are the guys you root for, and, hopefully, he’s OK.”
On Sunday morning, Sabourin posted a picture of himself on his Instagram story in his hospital bed with the caption “Thanks for all the well wishes. Hope to be back out on the ice in the near future.” Sabourin’s left eye was swollen shut and he had a cut above it, and one on his lips.