DETROIT – Niklas Kronwall spent part of his Wednesday in the last place he wanted to be – the hospital.
The veteran defenseman took a puck to the mouth during the Red Wings’ morning skate as he prepared to return to the lineup. Kronwall had missed Detroit’s previous two games against Phoenix and San Jose after sustaining a concussion on a hit from behind by Colorado forward Cody McLeod.
Kronwall was cleared to play against the Ottawa Senators, but the unexpected trip to the hospital changed his return to a game-time decision.
“It was your regular 2-on-1 drill and one of the guys went to pass it over my stick and I got my stick in there,” explained Kronwall. “It bounced right off my blade right to my mouth.”
After 15 stitches and visits to the hospital and dentist, Kronwall was questionable to return to the Red Wings’ lineup against the Senators because of maxillofacial damage. Xavier Ouellet was recalled to Detroit for the evening in case Kronwall couldn’t skate, but the rookie’s services weren’t needed.
Kronwall wasn’t about to let another blow to his head keep him from missing another game.
“That’s how it goes sometimes,” the defenseman said. “Don’t feel sorry for yourself that’s just how it is, put it behind you and move on.”
Kronwall started the night sporting a half shield over his lower mouth for extra protection, but quickly realized that it was more of a distraction than anything else.
“I used it during warm-ups, I wanted to see if it could be protecting around the mouth area a little bit better,” he said. “But I thought it was more in the way than helping really.”
Nothing stood in the way of Ottawa Wednesday night. The Senators broke out to a 3-0 lead over Detroit in the first period, and finished the game scoring another three unanswered goals en route to a 6-1 victory.
Kronwall’s stitches weren’t bothering him after the game, but how he felt about his performance was another matter.
“It’s feeling good, obviously not very happy with our performance, my performance,” Kronwall said. “There’s a lot of things that has to get better.”
After suffering two straight losses, the Red Wings conclude their three-game homestand when they host the New York Rangers in the annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Saturday.
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