Maple Leafs' Tavares stretchered off, hospitalized after taking knee to head

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Warning: Video contains graphic content

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares had to be stretchered off the ice in the first period of Game 1 against the Montreal Canadiens after taking an inadvertent knee to the head from Corey Perry.

Tavares was later transported to the hospital, the Maple Leafs confirmed to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

The 30-year-old was in serious distress after the play.

Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said postgame that Tavares is conscious and communicating well but will remain in the hospital overnight, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. He also said the tests came back "clear."

Tavares gave a thumbs-up as he left the ice.

Perry said the play was unintentional.

"I tried to jump over him and, unfortunately, I caught my knee on his head. I don't know what else to do there," he said, per The Athletic's Arpon Basu. "I know Johnny pretty well. I hope he's OK."

Tavares and Perry have played on Team Canada together three times at various international events.

"I honestly felt sick to my stomach when I saw it, and when I saw (Tavares)," Perry added.

Perry and Nick Foligno fought off the ensuing faceoff.

Foligno explained his rationale for scrapping with Perry, despite acknowledging it wasn't a dirty play.

"Our captain is laying on the ice. They would have done the same if (it was) their captain," Foligno said, per Postmedia's Lance Hornby. "(The hit) wasn't malicious. (The fight) takes away any grey (area). Perry's a big boy. It just allows everyone to go back and play."

The Leafs lost 2-1. Foligno was disappointed the team couldn't come through for the captain.

"We didn't get him a win tonight," he said, per NHL.com's Mike Zeisberger. "That's the part that stings the most."

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Maple Leafs' Tavares stretchered off, hospitalized after taking knee to head
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